PURPOSE: The purpose of this study is to develop an improved filtered-back-projection (FBP) algorithm for photoacoustic tomography (PAT), which allows image reconstruction with higher quality compared to images reconstructed through traditional algorithms. METHODS: A rigorous expression of a weighting function has been derived directly from a photoacoustic wave equation and used as a ramp filter in Fourier domain. The authors' new algorithm utilizes this weighting function to precisely calculate each photoacoustic signal's contribution and then reconstructs the image based on the retarded potential generated from the photoacoustic sources. In addition, an adaptive criterion has been derived for selecting the cutoff frequency of a low pass filter. Two computational phantoms were created to test the algorithm. The first phantom contained five spheres with each sphere having different absorbances. The phantom was used to test the capability for correctly representing both the geometry and the relative absorbed energy in a planar measurement system. The authors also used another phantom containing absorbers of different sizes with overlapping geometry to evaluate the performance of the new method for complicated geometry. In addition, random noise background was added to the simulated data, which were obtained by using an arc-shaped array of 50 evenly distributed transducers that spanned 160 degrees over a circle with a radius of 65 mm. A normalized factor between the neighbored transducers was applied for correcting measurement signals in PAT simulations. The authors assumed that the scanned object was mounted on a holder that rotated over the full 360 degrees and the scans were set to a sampling rate of 20.48 MHz. RESULTS: The authors have obtained reconstructed images of the computerized phantoms by utilizing the new FBP algorithm. From the reconstructed image of the first phantom, one can see that this new approach allows not only obtaining a sharp image but also showing the correct signal strength of the absorbers. The reconstructed image of the second phantom further demonstrates the capability to form clear images of the spheres with sharp borders in the overlapping geometry. The smallest sphere is clearly visible and distinguishable, even though it is surrounded by two big spheres. In addition, image reconstructions were conducted with randomized noise added to the observed signals to mimic realistic experimental conditions. CONCLUSIONS: The authors have developed a new FBP algorithm that is capable for reconstructing high quality images with correct relative intensities and sharp borders for PAT. The results demonstrate that the weighting function serves as a precise ramp filter for processing the observed signals in the Fourier domain. In addition, this algorithm allows an adaptive determination of the cutoff frequency for the applied low pass filter.
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