Nonionizing photoacoustic cystography with near-infrared absorbing gold nanostructures as optical-opaque tracers

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The objectives of this study were to demonstrate nonionizing photoacoustic tomography (PAT) of bladders with near-infrared absorbing gold nanocages (GNCs) as an optical-turbid tracer and to investigate the fate of GNCs after photoacoustic imaging.

Materials & methods:

The rats' bladders were visualized using PAT after transurethral injection of 2-nM GNCs. The fate of GNCs in the bladders was investigated. Spectroscopic PAT was applied to identify GNC-filled bladders in vivo and study biodistribution ex vivo.


Rats' bladders filled with GNCs were successfully imaged using a PAT system. The photoacoustic amplitude was enhanced by approximately 2240%. Both in vivo and ex vivo PAT results reveal that no accumulation of GNCs in the bladder and kidney was observed, and were validated with inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry.


The PAT with transurethral injection of GNCs provides two crucial safety features for clinical translation: no radiation exposure and no long-term heavy metal accumulation.

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