Source: Amelia R. Adelsperger, Evan H. Phillips, and Craig J. Goergen, Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana
High-frequency ultrasound systems are used to acquire high resolution images. Here, the use of a state-of-the-art system will be demonstrated to image the morphology and hemodynamics of small pulsatile arteries and veins found in mice and rats. Ultrasound is a relatively inexpensive, portable, and versatile method for the noninvasive assessment of vessels in humans as well as large and small animals. These are several key advantages that ultraound offers compared to other techniques, such as computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and near-infrared fluorescence tomography (NIRF). CT requires ionizing radiation and MRI can be prohibitively expensive and even impractical in some scenarios. NIRF, on the other hand, is limited by the penetration depth of light required to excite the fluorescent contrast agents.
Ultrasound has limitations in terms of imaging depth; however, this may be overcome by sacrificing resolution and using a lower frequency transducer. Abdominal gas and excess body weight can severely diminish image quality. In the first case, the propagation of sound waves is limited, while in the latter case, they are attenuated by overlying tissues, such as fat and connective tissue. As a result, no contrast or faint contrast may be observed. Finally, ultrasound is a highly user-dependent technique, requiring the sonographer to be familiar with anatomy and to be able to work around issues, such as the appearance of imaging artifacts or acoustic interference.