Experimental Fusion of Contrast Enhanced High-Field Magnetic Resonance Imaging and High-Resolution Micro-Computed Tomography in Imaging the Mouse Inner Ear

Allen Counter S1, *, Peter Damberg 2, Sahar Nikkhou Aski 2, Kálmán Nagy 2, Cecilia Engmér Berglin 3, Göran Laurell 4
1 Neurology Department, Harvard University Biological Laboratories, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
2 Karolinska Experimental Research Imaging Center, Karolinska Universitetssjukhuset Solna, Sweden
3 Department of CLINTEC Karolinska Institutet, 171 76 Stockholm, Sweden
4 Department of Surgical Sciences Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden

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* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Neurology, Harvard University, Biological Laboratories, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA; E-mail:



Imaging cochlear, vestibular, and 8th cranial nerve abnormalities remains a challenge. In this study, the membranous and osseous labyrinths of the wild type mouse inner ear were examined using volumetric data from ultra high-field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with gadolinium contrast at 9.4 Tesla and high-resolution micro-computed tomography (µCT) to visualize the scalae and vestibular apparatus, and to establish imaging protocols and parameters for comparative analysis of the normal and mutant mouse inner ear.


For in vivo MRI acquisition, animals were placed in a Milleped coil situated in the isocenter of a horizontal 9.4 T Varian magnet. For µCT examination, cone beam scans were performed ex vivo following MRI using the µCT component of a nanoScan PET/CT in vivo scanner.


The fusion of Gd enhanced high field MRI and high-resolution µCT scans revealed the dynamic membranous labyrinth of the perilymphatic fluid filled scala tympani and scala vestibule of the cochlea, and semicircular canals of the vestibular apparatus, within the µCT visualized contours of the contiguous osseous labyrinth. The ex vivo µCT segmentation revealed the surface contours and structural morphology of each cochlea turn and the semicircular canals in 3 planes.


The fusion of ultra high-field MRI and high-resolution µCT imaging techniques were complementary, and provided high-resolution dynamic and static visualization of the complex morphological features of the normal mouse inner ear structures, which may offer a valuable approach for the investigation of cochlear and vestibular abnormalities that are associated with birth defects related to genetic inner ear disorders in humans.

Keywords: Cochlea, Vestibular, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Micro Computed Tomography, Gadolinium.