Photoacoustic imaging (PAI) has the potential for real-time molecular imaging at high resolution and deep inside the tissue, using nonionizing radiation and not necessarily depending on exogenous imaging agents, making this technique very promising for a range of clinical applications. The fact that PAI systems can be made portable and compatible with existing imaging technologies favors clinical translation even more. The breadth of clinical applications in which photoacoustics could play a valuable role include: noninvasive imaging of the breast, sentinel lymph nodes, skin, thyroid, eye, prostate (transrectal), and ovaries (transvaginal); minimally invasive endoscopic imaging of gastrointestinal tract, bladder, and circulating tumor cells (in vivo flow cytometry); and intraoperative imaging for assessment of tumor margins and (lymph node) metastases. In this review, we describe the basics of PAI and its recent advances in biomedical research, followed by a discussion of strategies for clinical translation of the technique.
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