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Table 1 Main features of current imaging modalities for in vivo preclinical musculoskeletal research

From: Imaging technologies for preclinical models of bone and joint disorders

Imaging modality Resolution Sensitivity Imaging time Application Radiation Detection depth of view Limitations
Micro-CT 10 μm m-cmol Seconds to minutes Excellent contrast for mineralized tissue X-rays No limit Radiation exposure
     Mostly anatomical imaging    Long acquisition times
MRI 50 to 100 μm μ-mmol Minutes to hours Excellent contrast tissue resolution -anatomical and functional Imaging No No limit High investment infrastructure and running cost
        Long acquisition time
        Expert operator
PET 1 to 2 mm p-nmol Minutes Functional imaging Gamma radiation No limit Short half-life PET tracer (requirement cyclotron unit)
        High cost of tracers
        High investment infrastructure
SPECT <1 mm p-nmol Minutes Tomographic functional imaging Gamma radiation No limit Limited sensitivity
        High investment infrastructure
Fluorescent (optical imaging) 1 to 2 mm p-nmol Seconds to minutes Functional imaging Fluorescent emission <1 to 10 cm Not translated into clinical modality
Bioluminescence (optical imaging) 1 to 2 mm p-nmol Seconds to minutes Functional imaging Light emission <10 cm Not translated into clinical modality
        Injection of substrate