Progress in research on hypertension, heart failure, aging, post- infarct remodeling, and the molecular basis of cardiovascular diseases in general has been greatly facilitated in recent years by the development of specialized small-mammal models by selective breeding and/or genetic alteration. Routine noninvasive evaluation of cardiac function and perfusion in these animals models, however, is difficult using existing methods. In principle, MRI can be used for this purpose, but in practice this is difficult because of problems related to RF coils, cardiac gating, and imaging pulse sequences. In this article, solutions to these problems are described that have allowed us to use MRI to routinely image the hearts of rats and rabbits. Specifically described are four RF coils, cardiac gating schemes, and an imaging pulse sequence specially designed for cardiac imaging in these animals on a 4.7 T Omega chemical-shift imaging (CSI) spectrometer. These techniques can be used to obtain, within 2 min, eight double-oblique short-axis images of the rat at different cardiac phases with 200 x 400 μm in-plane resolution and a slice thickness of 2 mm. Moreover, myocardial tissue tagging can be performed with tag thicknesses and separations comparable to those used routinely in humans. The technical information is presented in sufficient detail to allow researchers at other sites to reproduce the results. This information should facilitate the use of MRI for the noninvasive examination of cardiac function and perfusion, which can be combined with other established techniques for the study of cardiovascular disease in specialized animal models.
- RF coils
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology