In several human volunteers, photoacoustic microscopy (PAM) has been utilized for noninvasive cutaneous imaging of the skin microvasculature and a melanocytic nevus. Microvascular networks in both acral and nonacral skin were imaged, and multiple features within the skin have been identified, including the stratum corneum, epidermal-dermal junction, and subpapillary vascular plexus. Several vascular and structural differences between acral and nonacral skin were also observed in the photoacoustic images. In addition, a nevus was photoacoustically imaged, excised, and histologically analyzed. The photoacoustic images allowed for in vivo measurement of tumor thickness, depth, and microvasculature-values confirmed by histologic examination. The presented images demonstrate the potential of PAM to aid in the study and evaluation of cutaneous microcirculation and analysis of pigmented lesions. Through its ability to three-dimensionally image the structure and function of the microvasculature and pigmented lesions, PAM can have a clinical impact in diagnosis and assessment of systemic diseases that affect the microvasculature such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, cutaneous malignancies such as melanoma, and potentially other skin disorders.
- photoacoustic microscopy