Evaluation of 2D super-resolution ultrasound imaging of the rat renal vasculature using ex vivo micro-computed tomography

Sofie Bech Andersen*, Iman Taghavi, Hans Martin Kjer, Stinne Byrholdt Søgaard, Carsten Gundlach, Vedrana Andersen Dahl, Michael Bachmann Nielsen, Anders Bjorholm Dahl, Jørgen Arendt Jensen, Charlotte Mehlin Sørensen

*Corresponding author for this work

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Super-resolution ultrasound imaging (SRUS) enables in vivo microvascular imaging of deeper-lying tissues and organs, such as the kidneys or liver. The technique allows new insights into microvascular anatomy and physiology and the development of disease-related microvascular abnormalities. However, the microvascular anatomy is intricate and challenging to depict with the currently available imaging techniques, and validation of the microvascular structures of deeper-lying organs obtained with SRUS remains difficult. Our study aimed to directly compare the vascular anatomy in two in vivo 2D SRUS images of a Sprague-Dawley rat kidney with ex vivo μCT of the same kidney. Co-registering the SRUS images to the μCT volume revealed visually very similar vascular features of vessels ranging from ~ 100 to 1300 μm in diameter and illustrated a high level of vessel branching complexity captured in the 2D SRUS images. Additionally, it was shown that it is difficult to use μCT data of a whole rat kidney specimen to validate the super-resolution capability of our ultrasound scans, i.e., validating the actual microvasculature of the rat kidney. Lastly, by comparing the two imaging modalities, fundamental challenges for 2D SRUS were demonstrated, including the complexity of projecting a 3D vessel network into 2D. These challenges should be considered when interpreting clinical or preclinical SRUS data in future studies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number24335
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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