Micro Soft Tissues Visualization Based on X-Ray Phase-Contrast Imaging

Lu Zhang, Shuqian Luo*
School of Biomedical Engineering, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China

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© Zhang and Luo; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the School of Biomedical Engineering, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China; Tel: 86-10-83911549; Fax: 86-10-84719024; E-mail:


The current imaging methods have a limited ability to visualize microstructures of biological soft tissues. Small lesions cannot be detected at the early stage of the disease. Phase contrast imaging (PCI) is a novel non-invasive imaging technique that can provide high contrast images of soft tissues by the use of X-ray phase shift. It is a new choice in terms of non-invasively revealing soft tissue details. In this study, the lung and hepatic fibrosis models of mice and rats were used to investigate the ability of PCI in microstructures observation of soft tissues. Our results demonstrated that different liver fibrosis stages could be distinguished non-invasively by PCI. The three-dimensional morphology of a segment of blood vessel was constructed. Noteworthy, the blood clot inside the vessel was visualized in three dimensions which provided a precise description of vessel stenosis. Furthermore, the whole lung airways including the alveoli were obtained. We had specifically highlighted its use in the visualization and assessment of the alveoli. To our knowledge, this was the first time for non-invasive alveoli imaging using PCI. This finding may offer a new perspective on the diagnosis of respiratory disease. All the results confirmed that PCI will be a valuable tool in biological soft tissues imaging.

Keywords: Phase contrast imaging (PCI), diffraction enhanced imaging (DEI), in-line X-ray phase contrast imaging (IL-XPCI), hepatic fibrosis, microvessel, alveoli.