Microcirculation facilitates the blood-tissue exchange of nutrients and regulates blood perfusion. It is, therefore, essential in maintaining tissue health. Aberrations in microcirculation are potentially indicative of underlying cardiovascular and metabolic pathologies. Thus, quantitative information about it is of great clinical relevance. Photoacoustic imaging (PAI) is a capable technique that relies on the generation of imaging contrast via the absorption of light and can image at micron-scale resolution. PAI is especially desirable to map microvasculature as hemoglobin strongly absorbs light and can generate a photoacoustic signal. This paper reviews the current state of the art for imaging microvascular networks using photoacoustic imaging. We further describe how quantitative information about blood dynamics such as the total hemoglobin concentration, oxygen saturation, and blood flow rate is obtained using PAI. We also discuss its importance in understanding key pathophysiological processes in neurovascular, cardiovascular, ophthalmic, and cancer research fields. We then discuss the current challenges and limitations of PAI and the approaches that can help overcome these limitations. Finally, we provide the reader with an overview of future trends in the field of PAI for imaging microcirculation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12776
Issue number6-7
StatePublished - Oct 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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