CHRI investigators contemplating or planning to use small animal models to address various questions in cardiology, embryology, cancer biology, or other disciplines are encouraged to consult with Dr. Bryan Hackfort about in vivo imaging tools at UNMC’s Ultrasound / Echocardiography Imaging core facility. Part of the Department of Cellular & Integrative Physiology, this lab’s services are available on a user-fee basis. At a seminar on campus in early July, Dr. Hackfort provided background on ultrasound imaging technology and the array of technologies housed in the facility. Ultrasound as an imaging modality is most effective for characterizing soft tissues such as tumors or the heart, whereas signal penetration through bone (e.g. skull) or air (e.g. lungs) is poor. The utility of ultrasound can be amplified by taking advantage of many technologies available in this lab. For example, microbubbles are a class of contrast agent (capable of serving as drug carriers) that can be injected and tracked in real time as they flow into tissues. Photoacoustic imaging incorporates a laser to excite chromogens like hemoglobin in the targeted tissue and produce acoustic signals measurable by ultrasound; hemoglobin excitation is therefore measured to assess oxygen saturation. Features of the Vevo Strain technology include measuring diastolic function and speckle tracking, which detects early myocardial dysfunction. The largest growth in facility usage over the past year has been for cancer biology, including methods that use ultrasound to guide tumor injections into internal organs and to characterize tumors through 3D images and volume measurements.
Dr. Hackfort is continually working with users to devise experimental approaches using equipment in the ultrasound core. “If a new investigator has questions, I am really flexible on getting ideas. We can always start with email or a phone call but an in person brainstorming session also has some advantages.” Contact him at 402-559-4372 or start by checking out an overview of the facility online.
Equipment in the facility includes:
- Acuson 512 echocardiograph (3-5 MHz and 15 MHz linear array probes)
- Two VisualSonics Vevo 3100 with LAZR-X (probes up to 40 MHz) and Vevo Strain software
- Probes to monitor mouse respiration, temperature, and heart rate during ultrasound
- Isoflurane anesthesia