Photo-acoustic tomography in the rotating setting

Guillaume Bal, Adrian Kirkeby

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Photo-acoustic tomography is a coupled-physics (hybrid) medical imaging modality that aims to reconstruct optical parameters in biological tissues from ultrasound measurements. As propagating light gets partially absorbed, the resulting thermal expansion generates minute ultrasonic signals (the photo-acoustic effect) that are measured at the boundary of a domain of interest. Standard inversion procedures first reconstruct the source of radiation by an inverse ultrasound (boundary) problem and second describe the optical parameters from internal information obtained in the first step. This paper considers the rotating experimental setting. Light emission and ultrasound measurements are fixed on a rotating gantry, resulting in a rotation-dependent source of ultrasound. The two-step procedure we just mentioned does not apply. Instead, we propose an inversion that directly aims to reconstruct the optical parameters quantitatively. The mapping from the unknown (absorption and diffusion) coefficients to the ultrasound measurement via the unknown ultrasound source is modeled as a composition of a pseudo-differential operator and a Fourier integral operator. We show that for appropriate choices of optical illuminations, the above composition is an elliptic Fourier integral operator. Under the assumption that the coefficients are unknown on a sufficiently small domain, we derive from this a (global) injectivity result (measurements uniquely characterize our coefficients) combined with an optimal stability estimate. The latter is the same as that obtained in the standard (non-rotating experimental) setting.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105001
JournalInverse Problems
Issue number10
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Photo-acoustic tomography
  • Hybrid imaging
  • Coupled-physics imaging
  • Stability estimates
  • Partial differential equations


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