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Proc Am Thorac Soc. 2005;2(6):477-80, 501.

Micro-computed tomography of the lungs and pulmonary-vascular system.

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Department of Physiology and Biomedical Engineering, Alfred Bldg 2-409, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.


Three-dimensional imaging of the intact lung and its vasculature is essential if the hierarchical and volumetric aspects of its structures and functions are to be quantitated. Although this is possible with clinical multislice helical CT scanners, the spatial resolution does not scale down adequately for small rodents for which cubic voxel dimensions of 50-100 microm are required. Micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) provides the necessary spatial resolution of 3D images of the intact thoracic contents. Micro-CT can provide higher resolution so that basic micro-architectural structures, such as alveoli, can be individually visualized and quantitated. Dynamic events, such as the respiratory and cardiac cycles, can be imaged at multiple time points throughout a representative cycle by coordinating the scan sequence (i.e., gating) to the cycle phase of a sequence of cycles. Fusion of the micro-CT image data with other image data, such as micro-SPECT or histology, can enhance the information content beyond the mainly structural information provided by micro-CT. Conventional attenuation-based X-ray imaging can involve significant X-ray exposures at high spatial resolutions, and this could affect the phenotype (e.g., via interstitial fibrosis) and genotype (e.g., via mutation), so its use in longitudinal studies using micro-CT may be limited in some cases. However, because of recent developments in which the phase shift or refraction of X-rays rather than attenuation is used, the X-ray exposure may be significantly reduced.

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