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Phys Med Biol. 2012 Sep 21;57(18):5749-63. doi: 10.1088/0031-9155/57/18/5749. Epub 2012 Sep 5.

Non-contact respiration monitoring for in-vivo murine micro computed tomography: characterization and imaging applications.

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Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.


A cone beam micro-CT has previously been utilized along with a pressure-tracking respiration sensor to acquire prospectively gated images of both wild-type mice and various adult murine disease models. While the pressure applied to the abdomen of the subject by this sensor is small and is generally without physiological effect, certain disease models of interest, as well as very young animals, are prone to atelectasis with added pressure, or they generate too weak a respiration signal with this method to achieve optimal prospective gating. In this work we present a new fibre-optic displacement sensor which monitors respiratory motion of a subject without requiring physical contact. The sensor outputs an analogue signal which can be used for prospective respiration gating in micro-CT imaging. The device was characterized and compared against a pneumatic air chamber pressure sensor for the imaging of adult wild-type mice. The resulting images were found to be of similar quality with respect to physiological motion blur; the quality of the respiration signal trace obtained using the non-contact sensor was comparable to that of the pressure sensor and was superior for gating purposes due to its better signal-to-noise ratio. The non-contact sensor was then used to acquire in-vivo micro-CT images of a murine model for congenital diaphragmatic hernia and of 11-day-old mouse pups. In both cases, quality CT images were successfully acquired using this new respiration sensor. Despite the presence of beam hardening artefacts arising from the presence of a fibre-optic cable in the imaging field, we believe this new technique for respiration monitoring and gating presents an opportunity for in-vivo imaging of disease models which were previously considered too delicate for established animal handling methods.

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