In vivo small animal imaging: current status and future prospects

Med Phys. 2010 Dec;37(12):6421-42. doi: 10.1118/1.3515456.


The use of small animal models in basic and preclinical sciences constitutes an integral part of testing new pharmaceutical agents prior to commercial translation to clinical practice. Whole-body small animal imaging is a particularly elegant and cost-effective experimental platform for the timely validation and commercialization of novel agents from the bench to the bedside. Biomedical imaging is now listed along with genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics as an integral part of biological and medical sciences. Miniaturized versions of clinical diagnostic modalities, including but not limited to microcomputed tomography, micromagnetic resonance tomography, microsingle-photon-emission tomography, micropositron-emission tomography, optical imaging, digital angiography, and ultrasound, have all greatly improved our investigative abilities to longitudinally study various experimental models of human disease in mice and rodents. After an exhaustive literature search, the authors present a concise and critical review of in vivo small animal imaging, focusing on currently available modalities as well as emerging imaging technologies on one side and molecularly targeted contrast agents on the other. Aforementioned scientific topics are analyzed in the context of cancer angiogenesis and innovative antiangiogenic strategies under-the-way to the clinic. Proposed hybrid approaches for diagnosis and targeted site-specific therapy are highlighted to offer an intriguing glimpse of the future.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Contrast Media
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Diagnostic Imaging / trends
  • Humans
  • Microbubbles
  • Optical Phenomena
  • Radioactive Tracers


  • Contrast Media
  • Radioactive Tracers