Affiliation: Institute for Biological and Medical Imaging, Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen, Ingoldstadter Landstraße 1, Neuherberg 85764, Germay and Chair for Biological Imaging, Technische Universitat München, Ismaninger Str. 22, Munchen 81675, Germany.
Optoacoustic tomography enables volumetric imaging with optical contrast in biological tissue at depths beyond the optical mean free path by the use of optical excitation and acoustic detection. The hybrid nature of optoacoustic tomography gives rise to two distinct inverse problems: The optical inverse problem, related to the propagation of the excitation light in tissue, and the acoustic inverse problem, which deals with the propagation and detection of the generated acoustic waves. Since the two inverse problems have different physical underpinnings and are governed by different types of equations, they are often treated independently as unrelated problems. From an imaging standpoint, the acoustic inverse problem relates to forming an image from the measured acoustic data, whereas the optical inverse problem relates to quantifying the formed image. This review focuses on the acoustic aspects of optoacoustic tomography, specifically acoustic reconstruction algorithms and imaging-system practicalities. As these two aspects are intimately linked, and no silver bullet exists in the path towards high-performance imaging, we adopt a holistic approach in our review and discuss the many links between the two aspects. Four classes of reconstruction algorithms are reviewed: time-domain (so called back-projection) formulae, frequency-domain formulae, time-reversal algorithms, and model-based algorithms. These algorithms are discussed in the context of the various acoustic detectors and detection surfaces which are commonly used in experimental studies. We further discuss the effects of non-ideal imaging scenarios on the quality of reconstruction and review methods that can mitigate these effects. Namely, we consider the cases of finite detector aperture, limited-view tomography, spatial under-sampling of the acoustic signals, and acoustic heterogeneities and losses.