4D micro-CT using fast prospective gating.
Micro-CT is currently used in preclinical studies to provide anatomical information. But, there is also significant interest in using this technology to obtain functional information. We report here a new sampling strategy for 4D micro-CT for functional cardiac and pulmonary imaging. Rapid scanning of free-breathing mice is achieved with fast prospective gating (FPG) implemented on a field programmable gate array. The method entails on-the-fly computation of delays from the R peaks of the ECG signals or the peaks of the respiratory signals for the triggering pulses. Projection images are acquired for all cardiac or respiratory phases at each angle before rotating to the next angle. FPG can deliver the faster scan time of retrospective gating (RG) with the regular angular distribution of conventional prospective gating for cardiac or respiratory gating. Simultaneous cardio-respiratory gating is also possible with FPG in a hybrid retrospective/prospective approach. We have performed phantom experiments to validate the new sampling protocol and compared the results from FPG and RG in cardiac imaging of a mouse. Additionally, we have evaluated the utility of incorporating respiratory information in 4D cardiac micro-CT studies with FPG. A dual-source micro-CT system was used for image acquisition with pulsed x-ray exposures (80 kVp, 100 mA, 10 ms). The cardiac micro-CT protocol involves the use of a liposomal blood pool contrast agent containing 123 mg I ml(-1) delivered via a tail vein catheter in a dose of 0.01 ml g(-1) body weight. The phantom experiment demonstrates that FPG can distinguish the successive phases of phantom motion with minimal motion blur, and the animal study demonstrates that respiratory FPG can distinguish inspiration and expiration. 4D cardiac micro-CT imaging with FPG provides image quality superior to RG at an isotropic voxel size of 88 μm and 10 ms temporal resolution. The acquisition time for either sampling approach is less than 5 min. The radiation dose associated with the proposed method is in the range of a typical micro-CT dose (256 mGy for the cardiac study). Ignoring respiration does not significantly affect anatomic information in cardiac studies. FPG can deliver short scan times with low-dose 4D micro-CT imaging without sacrificing image quality. FPG can be applied in high-throughput longitudinal studies in a wide range of applications, including drug safety and cardiopulmonary phenotyping.
Guo, X; Johnston, SM; Qi, Y; Johnson, GA; Badea, CT
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