Development of a morphologically realistic mouse phantom for pre-clinical photoacoustic imaging

Valeria Grasso, Jason L. Raymond, Regine Willumeit-Römer, James Joseph, Jithin Jose (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Characterizations based on anatomically realistic phantoms are highly effective to perform accurate technical validation of imaging systems. Specifically for photoacoustic imaging (PAI), although a variety of phantom models with simplified geometries are reported, an unmet need still exists to establish morphologically realistic heterogeneous pre-clinical phantoms. So the development of a mouse-mimicking phantom can reduce the use of animals for the validation and standardization studies of pre-clinical PAI systems and thus eventually translate the PAI technology to clinical research.

Purpose: Here we designed, developed, and fabricated a stable phantom that mimics the detailed morphology of a mouse, to be used as a realistic tool for PAI.

Methods: The mouse phantom, has been designed by using a combination of image modeling and 3D-printing techniques. As a tissue-mimicking material, we have used copolymer-in-oil-based material that was recently proposed by the International Photoacoustic Standardization Consortium (IPASC). In particular, the anatomically realistic phantom has been modeled by using the real atlas of a mouse as a reference. The mouse phantom includes a 3D-printed skeleton and the main abdominal organs such as the liver, spleen, and kidneys obtained by using doped copolymer-in-oil material with 3D-printed molds. In addition, the acoustic and optical properties of the tissue-mimicking material and the long-term stability have been broadly characterized.

Results: Furthermore, our studies showed that the phantom is durable and stable for more than 200 days, under normal storage and repeated use. Fabrication protocol is easy to reproduce. As a result, the proposed morphologically realistic mouse phantom offers durability, material compatibility, and an unprecedented realistic resemblance to the actual rodents' anatomy in PAI.

Conclusion: This durable morphologically realistic mouse phantom would minimize the animal experiments in compliance with the 3R principle of Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement. To our knowledge, this is the first time an anatomically realistic heterogeneous mouse phantom has been proposed for PAI in pre-clinical animal imaging and tested its durability over 200 days.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5757-5771
Number of pages15
JournalMedical Physics
Issue number9
Early online date3 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


  • 3D-printing
  • Mouse Model
  • Photoacoustic
  • Realistic Phantom
  • Ultrasound


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