Imaging needles

Deep tissue multi-modal molecular imaging needle-probes

We propose to develop comprehensive technologies that enable photoacoustic (PA) and ultrasound (US) imaging at the tip of a slender probe inserted through a 10 G (OD 3.4 mm; ID 2.7 mm) hollow cutting needle (cannula) into tissue. Two specific prototypes will be developed for interstitial imaging and tissue characterization, with applications in radio-frequency (RF) ablation and in neurosurgery respectively.

The first device called the Photoacoustic needle (PAN), is a probe carrying an optical fibre and associated optics, coupled to a nanosecond (ns) pulsed light source. Photoacoustic (PA) signals produced at the ROI are detected using the same extracorporeal ultrasound (US) detector array conventionally used for needle guidance. The device will have the capability to visualize the tines of RF ablation needles, to resolve liver tumours from normal tissue, and provide discrimination between RF ablated tissue and vital tumour tissue.

The second device, the Ultrasound-Photoacoustic needle (USPAN), is a probe that similarly inserts into a cannula, and is capable of hybrid US and PA detection at the tip of the needle. This device has internal US detection, using two concentric ring-detectors implemented at the tip of the probe.This device will enable forward-looking interstitial US and PA imaging. We will develop the USPAN probe keeping in mind applications for guidance of catheters for ventricular drainage in hydrocephalous brains, and for draining brain abscesses. A functioning USPAN probe will be crucial to direct the trajectory of the catheter and improve placement of the catheter tip for draining the ventricle or abscess, in the absence of sophisticated neuro-navigation tools.


This project will lay the foundation for a first generation of interstitial tissue imaging and characterization tools, by researching the technologies for developing the probes specific to the envisaged applications, and studying the performance of these on phantoms, ex vivo animal specimens, patient material and human cadavers.


In this project TU Delft / UTwente are working together with several institutes in India (a.o the Indian Institute of Science and the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences)