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Deep impact of superficial skin inking: Acoustic analysis of underlying tissue

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Research News

Announcing a new article publication for BIO Integration journal. In this article the authors Craig S. Carlson and Michiel Postema, from University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa and Tampere University, Tampere, Finland discuss deep impact of superficial skin inking: acoustic analysis of underlying tissue.

Skin tattoos are a common decoration, but profound scientific study on whether a skin tattoo alters the acoustic response from superficial tissues, and therefore from underlying tissue, was previously lacking; thus, any quantitative effects were unknown.

This study is the first to investigate the nature of artifacts in ultrasound images, which have been observed to originate from tattooed skin. The work was conducted theoretically and experimentally using extremely simplified cases of perfectly flat and homogenous layered media and in tattooed pork. The measured speeds of sound of tattooed materials were higher than those of their uninked counterparts.

The authors concluded that the artifacts observed in in vitro and in vivo brightness-mode scans were explained from near-vertical transitions between areas of different sound speeds. In addition, phantom material is a suitable acoustic alternative for live human skin.

In summary, the presence of superficial tattoos has a small but quantifiable effect on the acoustic response from deeper tissues. The study integrated acoustic physics, biomaterials research, mechanical engineering, and medical imaging to increase knowledge on tattooed skin.

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Article reference: Craig S. Carlson and Michiel Postema, Deep impact of superficial skin inking: acoustic analysis of underlying tissue. BIO Integration, 2021, https://doi.org/10.15212/bioi-2021-0004

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ISSN 2712-0074
eISSN 2712-0082

Keywords: Artificial tissue for ultrasound, critical refraction highlighting, speed of sound in skin, tattoo pigment dispersion sonication, tattooed pork, tissue-mimicking phantom

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