OBJECTIVE: Different types of preclinical research tools used in the field of diagnostic imaging such as dynamic flow circulation phantoms have built the foundation for optimization and advancement of clinical procedures including new imaging techniques. The objective was to introduce a third-generation phantom, building on the limitations of earlier versions and unlocking new opportunities for preclinical investigation.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: A third-generation phantom was designed and constructed comprising physiological vascular models from head to toe, including a 4-chamber heart with embedded heart valves and a controllable electromechanical pump. The models include modular segments, allowing for interchangeability between healthy and diseased vessels. Clinical sanity checks were performed using the phantom in combination with a dual-head power injector on a third-generation dual-source computed tomography scanner. Contrast media was injected at 1.5 g I/s, and the phantom was configured with a cardiac output of 5.3 L/min. Measurements of mean transit times between key vascular landmarks and peak enhancement values in Hounsfield units (HUs) were measured to compare with expected in vivo results estimated from literature.
RESULTS: Good agreement was obtained between literature reference values from physiology and measured results. Contrast arrival between antecubital vein and right ventricle was measured to be 13.1 ± 0.3 seconds. Transit time from right ventricle to left ventricle was 12.0 ± 0.2 seconds, from left internal carotid artery to left internal jugular vein 7.7 ± 0.4 seconds, and 2.9 ± 0.2 seconds from aortic arch to aortic bifurcation. The peak enhancement measured in the regions of interest was between 336 HU and 557 HU.
CONCLUSIONS: The third-generation phantom demonstrated the capability of simulating physiologic in vivo conditions with accurate contrast media transport timing, good repeatability, and expected enhancement profiles. As a nearly complete cardiovascular system including a functioning 4-chamber heart and interchangeable disease states, the third-generation phantom presents new opportunities for the expansion of preclinical research in diagnostic imaging.