Tomographic photoacoustic imaging (PAT) allows to overcome the anisotropic image resolution of conventional reflection mode imaging. In order to achieve high-resolution, tomographic images, precise information on the position of each detector element is required. PAT systems that acquire signals from rotating linear transducer arrays come with inevitable transducer misalignments. Up to now, transducer orientation (x/y-tilt) and radial distance uncertainty were measured experimentally or have not been considered. Uncalibrated, these systems suffer from characteristic artifacts yielding misinterpretations of anatomic structures. Herein, we derive the artifact mathematically and investigate an analytical calibration method that enables the calculation and compensation of important transducer positioning parameters: the rotational radius and in-plane tilt. We studied the approach theoretically and evaluated the performance of the developed algorithm both on numerical and experimental data. A PAT system based on a 5-MHz linear transducer array, a multichannel electronics platform with channel data access, a NIR-emitting laser system and a rotating samples is used to demonstrate the benefit of the transducer calibration method providing isotropic resolution of 160 µm.
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