Visualization of the microcirculatory network in skin by high frequency optoacoustic mesoscopy

Mathias Schwarz, Juan Aguirre, Andreas Buehler, Murad Omar, Vasilis Ntziachristos

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Optoacoustic (photoacoustic) imaging has a high potential for imaging melanin-rich structures in skin and the microvasculature of the dermis due to the natural chromophores (de)oxyhemoglobin, and melanin. The vascular network in human dermis comprises a large network of arterioles, capillaries, and venules, ranging from 5 μm to more than 100 μm in diameter. The frequency spectrum of the microcirculatory network in human skin is intrinsically broadband,due to the large variety in size of absorbers. In our group we have developed raster-scan optoacoustic mesoscopy (RSOM) that applies a 100 MHz transducer with ultra-wide bandwidth in raster-scan mode achieving lateral resolution of 18 μm. In this study, we applied high frequency RSOM to imaging human skin in a healthy volunteer. We analyzed the frequency spectrum of anatomical structures with respect to depth and show that frequencies <60 MHz contain valuable information of structures in the epidermis and the microvasculature of the papillary dermis. We illustrate that RSOM is capable of visualizing the fine vascular network at and beneath the epidermal-dermal junction, revealing the vascular fingerprint of glabrous skin, as well as the larger venules deeper inside the dermis. We evaluate the ability of the RSOM system in measuring epidermal thickness in both hairy and glabrous skin. Finally, we showcase the capability of RSOM in visualizing benign nevi that will potentially help in imaging the penetration depth of melanoma.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEuropean Conference on Biomedical Optics, ECBO 2015
PublisherOptica Publishing Group (formerly OSA)
ISBN (Print)9781628417012
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes
EventEuropean Conference on Biomedical Optics, ECBO 2015 - Munich, Germany
Duration: 21 Jun 201525 Jun 2015

Publication series

NameOptics InfoBase Conference Papers
ISSN (Electronic)2162-2701


ConferenceEuropean Conference on Biomedical Optics, ECBO 2015


  • Frequency analysis
  • Mesoscopy
  • Microcirculation
  • Optoacoustic
  • Photoacoustic
  • Skin


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