19 March 2014 Small-animal microangiography using phase-contrast X-ray imaging and gas as contrast agent
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Abstract
We use propagation-based phase-contrast X-ray imaging with gas as contrast agent to visualize the microvasculature in small animals like mice and rats. The radiation dose required for absorption X-ray imaging is proportional to the minus fourth power of the structure size to be detected. This makes small vessels impossible to image at reasonable radiation doses using the absorption of conventional iodinated contrast agents. Propagation-based phase contrast gives enhanced contrast for high spatial frequencies by moving the detector away from the sample to let phase variations in the transmitted X-rays develop into intensity variations at the detector. Blood vessels are normally difficult to observe in phase contrast even with iodinated contrast agents as the density difference between blood and most tissues is relatively small. By injecting gas into the blood stream this density difference can be greatly enhanced giving strong phase contrast. One possible gas to use is carbon dioxide, which is a clinically accepted X-ray contrast agent. The gas is injected into the blood stream of patients to temporarily displace the blood in a region and thereby reduce the X-ray absorption in the blood vessels. We have shown that this method can be used to image blood vessels down to 8 μm in diameter in mouse ears. The low dose requirements of this method indicate a potential for live small-animal imaging and longitudinal studies of angiogenesis.
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Ulf Lundström, Ulf Lundström, Daniel H. Larsson, Daniel H. Larsson, Ulrica K. Westermark, Ulrica K. Westermark, Anna Burvall, Anna Burvall, Hans M. Hertz, Hans M. Hertz, } "Small-animal microangiography using phase-contrast X-ray imaging and gas as contrast agent", Proc. SPIE 9033, Medical Imaging 2014: Physics of Medical Imaging, 90331L (19 March 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2043705; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2043705
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