Regular Article| Volume 88, ISSUE 2, P193-199, February 2000

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Transrectal Ultrasound Assessment of Murine Aorta and Iliac Arteries

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      Recent research in arterial aneurysm formation has focused on animal model development. Mice are an ideal experimental organism due to their short life cycle, prolific progeny, and extensively studied genome. Most experiments require the sacrifice of the mice to observe and assess any morphological changes. Noninvasive or minimally invasive imaging is limited due to the relatively small size of the structures. The development of such a technique, therefore, is especially useful for allowing repeated measurement without sacrificing the mice. We introduce a novel technique of imaging and measuring the aorta, the aorta/inferior vena cava complex, and the right and the left common iliac artery/vein complex by the use of an intravascular ultrasound catheter. The catheter is inserted through the anus and rectum and into the sigmoid and left colon, where the aorta can be observed to fluctuate at approximately 500 beats/min. The aortic bifurcation can also be observed. The diameters of the aorta and the inferior vena cava were measured first with the transrectal ultrasound technique and then with direct visualization upon laparotomy for 10 mice. This revealed a percentage error between 13.7 and 14.2% for this novel technique. Fifteen more sets of vessel measurements were also made with 8 male and 7 female mice. The results demonstrated a correlation between vessel size and body weight in male but not female mice and suggested an intersex difference in vessel growth rate. We conclude that transrectal ultrasound is a useful tool in imaging and measuring the murine aorta and its bifurcation.


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