Prostate brachytherapy, administered by implanting tiny radioactive seeds to treat prostate cancer, currently relies on transrectal ultrasound imaging for intraoperative visualization of the metallic seeds. Photoacoustic (PA) imaging has been suggested as a feasible alternative to ultrasound imaging due to its superior sensitivity to metal surrounded by tissue. However, PA images suffer from poor contrast when seeds are distant from the light source. We propose a transperineal light delivery method and investigate the application of a short-lag spatial coherence (SLSC) beamformer to enhance low-contrast photoacoustic signals that are distant from this type of light source. Performance is compared to a conventional delay-and-sum beamformer. A pure gelatin phantom was implanted with black ink-coated brachytherapy seeds and the mean contrast was improved by 3-25 dB with the SLSC beamformer for fiber-seed distances ranging 0.6-6.3 cm, when approximately 10% of the receive aperture elements were included in the short-lag sum. For fiber-seed distances greater than 3-4 cm, the mean contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) was approximately doubled with the SLSC beamformer, while mean signal-to-noise ratios (SNR) were mostly similar with both beamformers. Lateral resolution was decreased by 2 mm, but improved with larger short-lag values at the expense of poorer CNR and SNR. Similar contrast and CNR improvements were achieved with an uncoated brachytherapy seed implanted in ex vivo tissue. Results indicate that the SLSC beamformer has potential to enhance the visualization of prostate brachytherapy seeds that are distant from the light source.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics