Endonasal transsphenoidal surgery is an effective approach for pituitary adenoma resection, yet it poses the serious risk of internal carotid artery injury. We propose to visualize these carotid arteries, which are hidden by bone, with an optical fiber attached to a surgical tool and a transcranial ultrasound probe placed on the patient's temple (i.e. intraoperative photoacoustic imaging). To investigate energy requirements for vessel visualization, experiments were conducted with a phantom containing ex vivo sheep brain, ex vivo bovine blood, and 0.5-2.5 mm thick human cadaveric skull specimens. Photoacoustic images were acquired with 1.2-9.3 mJ laser energy, and the resulting vessel contrast was measured at each energy level. The distal vessel boundary was difficult to distinguish at the chosen contrast threshold for visibility (4.5 dB), which was used to determine the minimum energies for vessel visualization. The blood vessel was successfully visualized in the presence of the 0-2.0 mm thick sphenoid and temporal bones with up to 19.2 dB contrast. The minimum energy required ranged from 1.2-5.0 mJ, 4.2-5.9 mJ, and 4.6-5.2 mJ for the 1.0 temporal and 0-1.5 mm sphenoid bones, 1.5 mm temporal and 0-0.5 mm sphenoid bones, and 2.0 mm temporal and 0-0.5 mm sphenoid bones, respectively, which corresponds to a fluence range of 4-21 mJ/cm2. These results hold promise for vessel visualization within safety limits. In a separate experiment, a mock tool tip was placed, providing satisfactory preliminary evidence that surgical tool tips can be visualized simultaneously with blood vessels.