Dual-energy micro-CT of the rodent lung.
The purpose of this work is to investigate the use of dual-energy micro-computed tomography (CT) for the estimation of vascular, tissue, and air fractions in rodent lungs using a postreconstruction three material decomposition method. Using simulations, we have estimated the accuracy limits of the decomposition for realistic micro-CT noise levels. Next, we performed experiments involving ex vivo lung imaging in which intact rat lungs were carefully removed from the thorax, injected with an iodine-based contrast agent, and then inflated with different volumes of air (n = 2). Finally, we performed in vivo imaging studies in C57BL/6 mice (n = 5) using fast prospective respiratory gating in end inspiration and end expiration for three different levels of positive end expiratory pressure (PEEP). Before imaging, mice were injected with a liposomal blood pool contrast agent. The three-dimensional air, tissue, and blood fraction maps were computed and analyzed. The results indicate that separation and volume estimation of the three material components of the lungs are possible. The mean accuracy values for air, blood, and tissue were 93, 93, and 90%, respectively. The absolute accuracy in determining all fraction materials was 91.6%. The coefficient of variation was small (2.5%) indicating good repeatability. The minimum difference that we could detect in material fractions was 15%. As expected, an increase in PEEP levels for the living mouse resulted in statistically significant increases in air fractions at end expiration but no significant changes at end inspiration. Our method has applicability in preclinical pulmonary studies where changes in lung structure and gas volume as a result of lung injury, environmental exposures, or drug bioactivity would have important physiological implications.
Badea, CT; Guo, X; Clark, D; Johnston, SM; Marshall, CD; Piantadosi, CA
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