Micro-CT for Soft Tissue (Preclinical) Research

BRUKER SKYSCAN Micro-CTs are advancing the utility of micro-CT scanning of soft tissue imaging. Now more than ever X-ray tomography can be used for imaging structures that were either impossible or difficult to resolve. 

  • Fast scans for excellent tissue separation
  • Simple reorientation, data cropping, and landmarking tools
  • Advanced quantitative analysis for volumetric calculations and tissue structure thickness. 

Gain access to a library of method notes built up over two decades. Extract more information from a micro-CT through the uses of contrast agents and tissue preparation protocols: perfused vasculature for vessel thickness, heavy metal stains (iodine [Lugal’s], phosphotungstic acid (PTA), osmium tetroxide) for tissue differentiation, gold colloids for time-resolved cardiac gating, chemical drying for high resolution imaging, or make use of post-acquisition tools for time-resolved lung and cardiac imaging.

Rat lung, volume rendering

Ex-vivo high resolution lung imaging

High resolution micro-CT provides a 3D solution for measuring the morphometric parameters of lung parenchyma. Through the use of chemical drying of specimens to enhance contrast and stabilize samples,  it is possible to image lung tissue at high resolution, typically around 1μm pixel size or less. At this resolution, the alveolar membranes can be visualized and parameters such as mean cord length and mean linear intercept that are acquired through standard light-microscopy images in 2D can now be calculated in 3D. This provides the obvious advantage that the results are no longer biased by the cross section that is chosen and analyzed. Full 3D integration of the data is now possible. 

Mouse lungs, calculating volume

In-vivo time-resolved lung imaging

Calculate the volume of the lungs in living mice during the different phases (bins) of the breathing cycle through LISTMODE reconstruction function in the NRECON software. Use plug-ins in the custom processing of the CTAN Quantitative analysis program to separate the lung from the surrounding tissue without having to custom draw regions-of-interests. 

Cardiac gating

Cardiac gating

Time resolved imaging doesn’t have to be limited to the lung. By combining SkyScan’s unique LISTMODE acquisition function—collecting very fast images during the acquisition phase and then sorting post-data collection—with the use of perfused contrast agents in vivo, time resolved images of the heart can be acquired and volumetric analysis of blood flow at different stages can be calculated. 

Embryology

Embryology and developmental biology

Embryology and developmental biology studies require high resolution 3D imaging of embryos, such as of the mouse. However without contrast agent staining, very little soft tissue detail is visible. Here a soft tissue contrast agent, phosphotungstic acid (PTA) is used to stain mouse embryos for micro-CT scanning. The SkyScan micro-CTs achieve high contrast necessary to distinguish anatomical structures all in short acquisition scans required to conduct larger studies.

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