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Med Phys. 2003 May;30(5):901-11.

A submillimeter resolution fluorescence molecular imaging system for small animal imaging.

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  • 1Center for Molecular Imaging Research, Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, Massachusetts 02129, USA.


Most current imaging systems developed for tomographic investigations of intact tissues using diffuse photons suffer from a limited number of sources and detectors. In this paper we describe the construction and evaluation of a large dataset, low noise tomographic system for fluorescence imaging in small animals. The system consists of a parallel plate-imaging chamber and a lens coupled CCD camera, which enables conventional planar imaging as well as fluorescence tomography. The planar imaging data are used to guide the acquisition of a Fluorescence Molecular Tomography (FMT) dataset containing more than 106 measurements, and to superimpose anatomical features with tomographic results for improved visual representation. Experimental measurements exhibited good agreement with the diffusion theory models used to predict light propagation within the chamber. Tests of the instrument's capacity to quantitatively reconstruct fluorochrome distributions in three dimensions showed less than 5% errors between actual fluorochrome concentrations and FMT findings, and suggested a detection threshold of approximately 100 femptomoles for small localized objects. Experiments to assess the instrument's spatial resolution demonstrated the ability of the system to resolve objects placed at clear distances of less than 1 mm. This is a significant resolution increase over previously developed systems for animal imaging, and is primarily due to the large dataset employed and the use of inversion methods. Finally, the in vivo imaging capacity is showcased. It is expected that the large dataset collected can enable superior imaging of molecular probes in vivo and improve quantification of fluorescence signatures.

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