Metastasis frequently occurs even in the early stage of breast cancer. This research studied the feasibility of using photoacoustic (PA) imaging for identifying metastasis in the lymph vessels of mice. The photoacoustic efficiency of various contrast agents was investigated, and the influence of scattered light was evaluated by using a lymph vessel phantom. The lymph vessels of mice were then visualized using the selected contrast agents: indocyanine green (ICG) and gold nanorods (AuNR). The attenuation of the PA imaging was −1.90 dB/mm, whereas that of the fluorescence imaging was −4.45 dB/mm. The results indicate the potential of identifying sentinel lymph nodes by using PA imaging with these contrast agents.
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