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Imaging Methodology for Assessment of Chronic Disease


Chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease are among the leading causes of death in industrialized nations such as the United States. In addition, many other chronic diseases such as osteoarthritis result in disability and reduced quality of life for even more people, especially as they age. Imaging modalities, such as single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and x-ray computed tomography (CT), have a unique advantage in the area of medical research relative to their classical counterparts such as histology and gross pathology. Noninvasive imaging methodologies are an attractive alternative for obtaining physiologic assessments without disruption of the phenomenon of interest.

In response to the importance placed on noninvasive small animal studies at the biological and medical research fronts, the focus of this work is on the advancement of imaging technologies which will augment and extend the current capabilities of noninvasive imaging systems. In the initial portion of this thesis, we will focus on the advancement of SPECT and CT techniques used to measure perfusion and those biological factors to which it is correlated, including improvements in physiological monitoring, dual-isotope imaging, and dual-modality imaging. In addition, we will complement our design focus with an illustration of the effectiveness of the small animal imaging approach to the study of osteoarthritis using MRI. We will illustrate the utility of imaging techniques via an ex vivo MRI study of human osteochondral specimens, and then we will apply them to study the development of osteoarthritis in vivo in a rabbit model.

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