In vivo microCT imaging of rodent cerebral vasculature

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Computed tomography (CT) remains a critical diagnostic tool for evaluating patients with cerebrovascular disease, and the advent of specialized systems for imaging rodents has extended these techniques to small animal models of these diseases. We therefore have evaluated in vivo methods of imaging rat models of hemorrhagic stroke using a high resolution compact computed tomography ('microCT') system (FLEX(tm) X-O(tm), Gamma Medica-Ideas, Northridge, CA). For all in vivo studies, the head of the anesthetized rat was secured in a custom immobilization device for microCT imaging with 512 projections over 2 min at 60 kVp and 0.530 mA (I(tube) x t/rotation=63.6 mAs). First, imaging without iodinated contrast was performed (a) to differentiate the effect of contrast agent in contrast-enhanced CT and (b) to examine the effectiveness of the immobilization device between two time points of CT acquisitions. Then, contrast-enhanced CT was performed with continuous administration of iopromide (300 mgI ml(-1) at 1.2 ml min(-1)) to visualize aneurysms and other vascular formations in the carotid and cerebral arteries that may precede subarachnoid hemorrhage. The accuracy of registration between the noncontrast and contrast-enhanced CT images with the immobilization device was compared against the images aligned with normalized mutual information using FMRIB's linear image registration tool (FLIRT). Translations and rotations were examined between the FLIRT-aligned noncontrast CT image and the nonaligned noncontrast CT image. These two data sets demonstrated translational and rotational differences of less than 0.5 voxel (approximately 85 microm) and 0.5 degrees, respectively. Noncontrast CT demonstrated a very small volume (0.1 ml) of femoral arterial blood introduced surgically into the rodent brain. Continuous administration of iopromide during the CT acquisition produced consistent vascular contrast in the reconstructed CT images. As a result, carotid arteries and major cerebral blood vessels were visible with contrast-enhanced CT, but not with noncontrast CT. In conclusion, the CT-compatible immobilization device was useful for in vivo microCT imaging of intracranial blood and of vascular structures within and immediately adjacent to the rodent brain. The microCT imaging technique is also compatible with continuous administration of a conventional iodinated contrast agent (e.g. iopromide) and therefore does not require specialized small animal specific contrast agent that has comparatively long in vivo residence time.

Medical Subject Headings

Animals; Brain (pathology); Carotid Arteries (pathology); Cerebrovascular Circulation; Contrast Media (pharmacology); Image Processing, Computer-Assisted (methods); Immobilization; Intracranial Hemorrhages (diagnosis, pathology); Iohexol (analogs & derivatives, pharmacology); Rats; Stroke (diagnosis, pathology); Subarachnoid Hemorrhage (pathology); Tomography, X-Ray Computed (methods)

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Physics in medicine and biology







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