Photothermal therapy is an effective means to induce tumor cell death, since tumor tissue is more sensitive to temperature increases than normal tissue. Biological responses depend on tissue temperature; target tissue temperature needs to be precisely measured and controlled to achieve desired thermal effects. In this work, a unique photoacoustic (PA) sensor is proposed for temperature measurement during interstitial laser phototherapy. A continuous-wave laser light and a pulsed laser light, for photothermal irradiation and photoacoustic temperature measurement, respectively, were delivered to the target tissue through a fiber coupler. During laser irradiation, the PA amplitude was measured. The Grüneisen parameter and the bioheat equation were used to determine the temperature in strategic positions in the target tissue. Our results demonstrate that the interstitial PA amplitude is a linear function of temperature in the range of 22 to 55 °C, as confirmed by thermocouple measurement. Furthermore, by choosing appropriate laser parameters, the maximum temperature surrounding the active diffuse fiber tip in tissue can be controlled in the range of 41 to 55 °C. Thus, this sensor could potentially be used for fast, accurate, and convenient three-dimensional temperature measurement, and for real-time feedback and control of interstitial laser phototherapy in cancer treatment.
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