Super-resolution imaging with ultrasound for visualization of the renal microvasculature in rats before and after renal ischemia: A pilot study

Sofie Bech Andersen*, Iman Taghavi, Carlos Armando Villagómez Hoyos, Stinne Byrholdt Søgaard, Fredrik Gran, Lars Lönn, Kristoffer Lindskov Hansen, Jørgen Arendt Jensen, Michael Bachmann Nielsen, Charlotte Mehlin Sørensen

*Corresponding author for this work

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In vivo monitoring of the microvasculature is relevant since diseases such as diabetes, ischemia, or cancer cause microvascular impairment. Super-resolution ultrasound imaging allows in vivo examination of the microvasculature by detecting and tracking sparsely distributed intravascular microbubbles over a minute-long period. The ability to create detailed images of the renal vasculature of Sprague-Dawley rats using a modified clinical ultrasound platform was investigated in this study. Additionally, we hypothesized that early ischemic damage to the renal microcirculation could be visualized. After a baseline scan of the exposed kidney, 10 rats underwent clamping of the renal vein (n = 5) or artery (n = 5) for 45 min. The kidneys were rescanned at the onset of clamp release and after 60 min of reperfusion. Using a processing pipeline for tissue motion compensation and microbubble tracking, super-resolution images with a very high level of detail were constructed. Image filtration allowed further characterization of the vasculature by isolating specific vessels such as the ascending vasa recta with a 15-20 μm diameter. Using the super-resolution images alone, it was only possible for six assessors to consistently distinguish the healthy renal microvasculature from the microvasculature at the onset of vein clamp release. Future studies will aim at attaining quantitative estimations of alterations in the renal microvascular blood flow using super-resolution ultrasound imaging.

Original languageEnglish
Article number862
Issue number11
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Kidney
  • Microcirculation
  • Rats
  • Reperfusion injury
  • Sprague-Dawley
  • Super-resolution ultrasound imaging
  • Vasa recta


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