Spectral unmixing techniques for optoacoustic imaging of tissue pathophysiology

Stratis Tzoumas, Vasilis Ntziachristos

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


A key feature of optoacoustic imaging is the ability to illuminate tissue at multiple wavelengths and therefore record images with a spectral dimension. While optoacoustic images at single wavelengths reveal morphological features, in analogy to ultrasound imaging or X-ray imaging, spectral imaging concedes sensing of intrinsic chromophores and externally administered agents that can reveal physiological, cellular and subcellular functions. Nevertheless, identification of spectral moieties within images obtained at multiple wavelengths requires spectral unmixing techniques, which present a unique mathematical problem given the three-dimensional nature of the optoacoustic images. Herein we discuss progress with spectral unmixing techniques developed for multispectral optoacoustic tomography. We explain how different techniques are required for accurate sensing of intrinsic tissue chromophores such as oxygenated and deoxygenated haemoglobin versus extrinsically administered photo-absorbing agents and nanoparticles. Finally, we review recent developments that allow accurate quantification of blood oxygen saturation (sO2) by transforming and solving the sO2 estimation problem from the spatial to the spectral domain. This article is part of the themed issue ‘Challenges for chemistry in molecular imaging’.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20170262
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number2107
StatePublished - 28 Nov 2017


  • Multispectral optoacoustic imaging
  • Spectral unmixing
  • Spectroscopic photoacoustic imaging


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