Tölgyesi, B., Bakker, J., Nagy, K. et al. 2021. Refined acquisition of high-resolution chest CTs in macaques by free breathing. Laboratory Animals 55(6), 551-559.

The use of medical imaging as a non-invasive or minimally invasive method to assess disease or treatment response continues to grow. A similar trend is observed in pre-clinical research, in general, and more specifically in macaques, enabling longitudinal assessment of disease in individual animals. Computed tomography (CT) is such an imaging technique used to obtain clinically applicable data. To acquire a chest CT using a cone beam tomography system, some kind of respiration control is needed. A commonly used technique for this is endotracheal intubation and mechanical ventilation. However, although routinely performed this can increase the risk of impact on welfare in comparison with non-invasive imaging. Therefore, we studied the option of retrospectively gated CTs: acquiring high resolution chest CTs in freely breathing macaques. For this, we compared 748 CTs obtained during free breathing with 881 CTs obtained with mechanical ventilation in combination with a breath-hold procedure predominantly on the appearance of misregistration artifacts. The scans were obtained during different stages of multiple experimentally induced respiratory diseases. The comparison shows that although there are still streaking artifacts present in the retrospective gated scans, the amount of shading artifacts is reduced to such a level that it possibly dominates underlying lesions, causing misdiagnosis. Our data reveal that the use of retrospective gating in high resolution CTs for macaques can be successfully applied. With the use of this technique, artifacts due to free breathing are reduced to a diagnostically appropriate level. Most importantly, this technique makes chest CTs with this instrumentation a non-invasive modality.