A 3D-printed modular device for imaging the brain of small birds

Christine R. Lattin, Yale University
Maxwell A. Emerson, Yale University
Jean Dominique Gallezot, Yale University
Tim Mulnix, Yale University
J. Elliott Brown, Yale University
Richard E. Carson, Yale University


© 2017 Elsevier B.V. Background One potential barrier to using in vivo imaging in any new animal species is solving the basic problem of how to hold animals safely and securely during scans. New method In this paper, we describe the design, fabrication, use, and positional reproducibility of a 3D-printed plastic device (the Avian Imaging Device, or AID) for imaging the brain of 1 or 2 small songbirds. We designed two different types of head cones to use with this device: one that was not contoured and designed for anesthesia induction, and one contoured to the shape of a house sparrow head, designed to be used with a pre-anesthetized animal. Results Compared to no holder, using the AID with both contoured and non-contoured head cones significantly reduced the amount of translation necessary to align the head in pairs of CT scans (by 78% and 90%, respectively); using the contoured head cone also significantly reduced the amount of rotation necessary for head alignment in registering pairs of scans (by 90%). Comparison with existing method(s) Using an animal holder that can not only securely hold animals but which has high positional reproducibility is essential to take advantage of the maximum resolution possible with small animal imaging. 3D-printed materials are also compatible with PET and CT, environmentally stable, and fast and inexpensive to make. Conclusions Researchers can learn from the design of the AID and use our CAD models as a starting point for fabricating devices for multiple small-animal imaging needs.