Developing Small Animal Holders for MR Imaging of Rats and Mice

Motion artifacts in rodent holders currently utilized by this laboratory have contributed to issues in analysis that require extensive post-acquisition motion correction algorithms to properly analyze.
To address these issues we designed several MR compatible rodent holder prototypes using CAD software in order to improve on their structure and strength. Beyond this we are developing several prototypes for novel MRI head coil with head restrainers to be integrated into the holder to be utilized for functional MR imaging in conscious rodents.
This project aims to reduce motion artifacts during function MR imaging acquisition while improving overall image quality and consistency of all scans while also addressing the issues of how to interpret functional MR data acquired using anesthetized rodents.
The image shows a CAD prototype of our custom designed plastic rat holder that is currently being 3D printed in ABS at the UNC Makerspace. This cradle not only takes advantage of a strengthened design to minimize motion artifacts but will also allow the implementation of conscious animal imaging, which to date has not been implemented in small animal MR imaging on rodents at UNC.
-Yen-Yu (Ian) Shih, Experimental Neuroimaging Laboratory, Biomedical Research Imaging Center (BRIC) and the Department of Neurology