Medium-intensity focused ultrasound (MIFU) concerns therapeutic ultrasound interventions aimed at stimulating physiological mechanisms to reinforce healing responses without reaching temperatures that can cause permanent tissue damage. The therapeutic outcome is strongly affected by the temperature distribution in the treated region and its accurate monitoring represents an unmet clinical need. In this work, we investigate on the capacities of four-dimensional optoacoustic tomography to monitor tissue heating with MIFU. Calibration experiments in a tissue-mimicking phantom have confirmed that the optoacoustically-estimated temperature variations accurately match the simultaneously acquired thermocouple readings. The performance of the suggested approach in real tissues was further shown with bovine muscle samples. Volumetric temperature maps were rendered in real time, allowing for dynamic monitoring of the ultrasound focal region, estimation of the peak temperature and the size of the heat-affected volume.
The authors acknowledge support from the German Research Foundation (DFG) under Research Grant RA 1848/5-1 (D.R.) and the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness under project DPI2016-80254-R (F.M.).