A team of Japanese scientists used a synchrotron to harness high energy X-ray radiation and use it as a CT scanner. With proper shutter timing tuned to the heartbeat of laboratory rodents, scientists were able to image arteries which were previously too small for standard laboratory equipment to see.
From RIKEN Lab:
They used synchrotron radiation at the SPring-8 Center in Harima, which is much more powerful and predictable than standard laboratory sources, and so achieves high contrast resolution and minimizes blur. The shutters for x-ray source and detection were synchronized. The sample rodents were anaesthetized, put onto a ventilator, and connected to an electrocardiogram (ECG) machine. The researchers were then able to acquire data at controlled airway pressures and time observations for the periods between heart contractions. For heart and arteries, image acquisition could be timed for the end of breath expiration.
The sharp images during dramatic motion thus obtained allow calculation of gas exchange in small airways, and of shear stress in blood vessels, an important factor in deposition of plaques. “This development is a significant step in our program to create a computer model of the human body,” says Ryutaro Himeno, who heads the research team.