In light of rising health care costs, technology that improves the efficiency of medical research is welcome. Small-animal imagers promise to streamline therapy development by imaging biological processes in mouse or rat models of human disease. They offer a variety of individual and combination imaging modalities, including fluorescence, bioluminescence, x-ray (CT), PET, single-photon-emission computed tomography (SPECT), MRI and ultrasound – just about any clinical imaging modality is available in a small-animal instrument.

With a wide array of imaging techniques, what governs the choice of modality? Todd Peterson, assistant professor in the department of radiology and radiological sciences at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., notes that “Often, people try to stretch a specific modality to measure just about everything.” But each modality has its advantages and disadvantages.

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Originally published in BioPhotonics International, NOV 2008.