Live small-animal X-ray lung velocimetry and lung micro-tomography at the Australian Synchrotron Imaging and Medical Beamline

Rhiannon P Murrie, Kaye S Morgan, Anton Maksimenko, Andreas Fouras, David M Paganin, Chris Hall, Karen K W Siu, David W Parsons, Martin Donnelley

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The high flux and coherence produced at long synchrotron beamlines makes them well suited to performing phase-contrast X-ray imaging of the airways and lungs of live small animals. Here, findings of the first live-animal imaging on the Imaging and Medical Beamline (IMBL) at the Australian Synchrotron are reported, demonstrating the feasibility of performing dynamic lung motion measurement and high-resolution micro-tomography. Live anaesthetized mice were imaged using 30 keV monochromatic X-rays at a range of sample-to-detector propagation distances. A frame rate of 100 frames s-1 allowed lung motion to be determined using X-ray velocimetry. A separate group of humanely killed mice and rats were imaged by computed tomography at high resolution. Images were reconstructed and rendered to demonstrate the capacity for detailed, user-directed display of relevant respiratory anatomy. The ability to perform X-ray velocimetry on live mice at the IMBL was successfully demonstrated. High-quality renderings of the head and lungs visualized both large structures and fine details of the nasal and respiratory anatomy. The effect of sample-to-detector propagation distance on contrast and resolution was also investigated, demonstrating that soft tissue contrast increases, and resolution decreases, with increasing propagation distance. This new capability to perform live-animal imaging and high-resolution micro-tomography at the IMBL enhances the capability for investigation of respiratory diseases and the acceleration of treatment development in Australia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1049-1055
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Synchrotron Radiation
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • lung
  • microtomography
  • phase contrast
  • velocimetry
  • X-ray

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