Quantitative blood flow measurements in the small animal cardiopulmonary system using digital subtraction angiography

Mingde Lin, Craig T. Marshall, Yi Qi, Samuel M. Johnston, Cristian T. Badea, Claude A. Piantadosi, G. Allan Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Purpose: The use of preclinical rodent models of disease continues to grow because these models help elucidate pathogenic mechanisms and provide robust test beds for drug development. Among the major anatomic and physiologic indicators of disease progression and genetic or drug modification of responses are measurements of blood vessel caliber and flow. Moreover, cardiopulmonary blood flow is a critical indicator of gas exchange. Current methods of measuring cardiopulmonary blood flow suffer from some or all of the following limitations-they produce relative values, are limited to global measurements, do not provide vasculature visualization, are not able to measure acute changes, are invasive, or require euthanasia. Methods: In this study, high-spatial and high-temporal resolution x-ray digital subtraction angiography (DSA) was used to obtain vasculature visualization, quantitative blood flow in absolute metrics (ml/min instead of arbitrary units or velocity), and relative blood volume dynamics from discrete regions of interest on a pixel-by-pixel basis (100×100 μ m2). Results: A series of calibrations linked the DSA flow measurements to standard physiological measurement using thermodilution and Fick's method for cardiac output (CO), which in eight anesthetized Fischer-344 rats was found to be 37.0±5.1 ml/min. Phantom experiments were conducted to calibrate the radiographic density to vessel thickness, allowing a link of DSA cardiac output measurements to cardiopulmonary blood flow measurements in discrete regions of interest. The scaling factor linking relative DSA cardiac output measurements to the Fick's absolute measurements was found to be 18.90× CODSA = COFick. Conclusions: This calibrated DSA approach allows repeated simultaneous visualization of vasculature and measurement of blood flow dynamics on a regional level in the living rat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5347-5358
Number of pages12
JournalMedical physics
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2009



  • Blood flow
  • Cardiac output
  • Cardiovascular
  • Digital subtraction angiography
  • Pulmonary
  • Small animal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

Cite this

Lin, M., Marshall, C. T., Qi, Y., Johnston, S. M., Badea, C. T., Piantadosi, C. A., & Johnson, G. A. (2009). Quantitative blood flow measurements in the small animal cardiopulmonary system using digital subtraction angiography. Medical physics, 36(11), 5347-5358. https://doi.org/10.1118/1.3231823