In detecting small foreign bodies in soft biological tissue, ultrasound imaging suffers from poor sensitivity (52.6%) and specificity (47.2%). Hence, alternative imaging methods are needed. Photoacoustic (PA) imaging takes advantage of strong optical absorption contrast and high ultrasonic resolution. A PA imaging system is employed to detect foreign bodies in biological tissues. To achieve deep penetration, we use near-infrared light ranging from 750 to 800 nm and a 5-MHz spherically focused ultrasonic transducer. PA images were obtained from various targets including glass, wood, cloth, plastic, and metal embedded more than 1 cm deep in chicken tissue. The locations and sizes of the targets from the PA images agreed well with those of the actual samples. Spectroscopic PA imaging was also performed on the objects. These results suggest that PA imaging can potentially be a useful intraoperative imaging tool to identify foreign bodies
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