MicroCT scanner performance and considerations for vascular specimen imaging

Med Phys. 2004 Feb;31(2):305-13. doi: 10.1118/1.1637971.


Obtaining three-dimensional geometrical data of vascular systems is of major importance to a number of research areas in medicine and biology. Examples are the characterization of tumor vasculature, modeling blood flow, or genetic effects on vascular development. The performance of the General Electric Medical Systems MS8 microCT scanner is examined in the context of these applications. The system is designed to acquire high-resolution images of specimens up to 5 cm in diameter. A maximum resolution of 38 lp/mm at the 10% modulation transfer function level or 22 microm full width at half maximum of the plane spread function can be achieved with 8.5 microm voxels and a 17 mm field of view. Three different contrast agents are discussed and applied for imaging of small animal vasculature: corrosion casting material Batson's No. 17 with an added lead pigment, silicon rubber MICROFIL MV122, and a suspension of barium sulfate (Baritop) in gelatin. Contrast for all of these agents was highly variable in different vessels as well as within the same vessel. Imaging of PMMA tubing filled with MICROFIL shows that even vessels below 20 microm in diameter are detectable and that diameter estimation of vessels based on thresholding is possible with a precision of 2-3 pixels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Angiography / methods*
  • Animals
  • Barium Sulfate / pharmacology
  • Blood Vessels / pathology*
  • Contrast Media / pharmacology
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Mice
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Photons
  • Rabbits
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*


  • Contrast Media
  • Barium Sulfate