Digital Subtracted Angiography of Small Animals

Authored by: Stavros Spiliopoulos , George C. Kagadis , Dimitrios N. Karnabatidis , G. Allan Johnson , Cristian Badea

Handbook of Small Animal Imaging

Print publication date:  April  2016
Online publication date:  February  2016

Print ISBN: 9781466555686
eBook ISBN: 9781466555693
Adobe ISBN:


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In vivo small animal imaging is the cornerstone of modern experimental protocols investigating disease mechanisms, novel drug development, and innovative therapies. Using previous investigational protocols, animals had to be sacrificed and prepared for pathology to obtain relevant information about the vascular system, without the possibility of longitudinal imaging. Constantly evolving imaging modalities have become indispensable for the preclinical investigation of human diseases using modern experimental animal models of both normal and genetically modified small rodents, mice, and rats, allowing in vivo follow-up of a specific disease or drug in the same animal. Currently, microimaging for small animals includes morphological, anatomical, and molecular imaging techniques such as microcomputed tomography (CT), micromagnetic resonance (MR), micropositron emission tomography (PET), microsingle-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), microultrasound, and digital subtraction angiography (DSA). The application of these imaging modalities to small animals poses several problems mainly due to the high spatial and temporal resolution required, but each method also exhibits particular advantages and limitations (Badea et al. 2008). Imaging in small animals can be addressed particularly well using x-ray DSA, given the ease of use and its ability to capture rapid physiological changes in blood flow. DSA can be based on either temporal subtraction or K-edge subtraction. The latter technique is based on the nonlinear differences in the attenuation of contrast agents based on iodine with the x-ray beam energy. A K-edge describes a sudden increase in the attenuation coefficient of x-ray photons. K-edge DSA ideally requires imaging on both sides of the K-edge of iodine with monochromatic x-rays obtained using a synchrotron source (Schültke et al. 2010). However, the need of a synchrotron limits the availability of such a method, since the majority of x-ray imaging systems use polychromatic x-ray sources, and are therefore better suited for temporal subtraction.

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