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There is an increasing demand in diagnostic radiology for extracting additional morphological and functional quantitative parameters from three-dimensional computed tomography (CT) images. Synchrotron radiation computed tomography (SRCT) is the state-of-the-art method in preclinical X-ray CT, because its performance is close to the theoretical limits in terms of accuracy and precision.

The SRCT method with monochromatic X-ray beams yields absolute high-Z element contrast agent concentrations, without errors arising from beam hardening or scatter artefacts, by using digital subtraction techniques of the sinograms. Each pixel of the reconstructed difference images provides a quantitative concentration versus time curve of inhaled or injected high-Z contrast agents (xenon or iodine) with a high sensitivity. This is the key point of two functional imaging techniques that were developed at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility: brain perfusion and lung function (ventilation and perfusion).

These two imaging techniques provide parametric images expressed in absolute perfusion parameters (blood volume, blood flow, mean transit time and capillary permeability) or ventilation parameters (lung volume, regional lung ventilation, bronchial lumen size, regional airway and lung compliance) with a high accuracy and precision.

The aim of the present brief review is to give a snapshot of the status and perspectives of these two imaging techniques, with emphasis on the performances and interests for functional imaging. Two separate sections will then describe the results obtained so far using SRCT as an in vivo functional imaging tool for measuring changes in haemodynamics and ventilation, in the investigation of experimental pathophysiology and in the effects of therapeutic intervention.
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Keywords: airway hyperreactivity; brain perfusion; brain tumours; computed tomography; contrast agent kinetics; lung disease; lung pathologies; lung volume measurements; synchrotron radiation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2009

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