Characterizing the aggressiveness of prostate cancer using an all-optical needle photoacoustic sensing probe: feasibility study

In our previous studies, we have developed a prototype interstitial needle sensing probe that can acquire broadband A-line photoacoustic (PA) signals encoding both tissue microarchitecture and histochemical information comparable to that accessible by histology. Paving the road toward clinical translation of this technology, we replaced the piezoelectric hydrophone in the needle PA probe with a fiber optic hydrophone that enabled both broader bandwidth and sufficient signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) for PA signal detection. Such an all-optical design also facilitated disposability and significantly reduced the footprint of the needle PA sensing probe. Experiments were performed on well-controlled phantoms and human prostate tissues. The microarchitectures in each sample were quantitatively evaluated by both the nonlinear spectral slope of the PA signal power spectrum and the generalized gamma (GG) parameter a by implementing envelope statistics to the PA signal. In the studies on phantoms containing optically absorbing microspheres with various sizes and concentrations, the nonlinear spectral slope showed a strong correlation of r=-0.80 with the microsphere dimensions, and a relatively weak correlation of r=-0.54 with the microsphere concentrations, while the GG parameter a showed a strong correlation with the microsphere dimensions (r=0.72) and a moderate correlation with the microsphere concentrations (r=0.63). In the studies on human prostate tissues containing progressive cancer stages, both the nonlinear spectral slope and the GG parameter a demonstrated a statistically significant difference between benign and nonaggressive cancer tissues (p<0.01), and between nonaggressive and aggressive cancer tissues (p<0.01). In addition, a multivariate analysis combining the two quantitative measurements demonstrated the boundaries among the different progressive stages of prostate cancer. To read more click here