Department of Radiology

The Ultrasound Sub-Core of the SAIF offers an array of research services for pre-clinical research including quantitative image analysis and consultation.

Our state-of-the-art ultrasound scanners and photoacoustic system are available as a resource for conducting your research studies. This rich resource for ultrasound imaging is available at nominal hourly fees for various categories of study.

Ultrasound Research Services provides services to a host of groups working on diverse projects such as the measurement of angiogenesis, vascularity, tissue elasticity, the effects of various pharmaceuticals on these measures and more. Such research encompasses a variety of clinical areas including radiology, oncology, cardiology, gynecology, and hematology, among others.

Instrumentation and Resources

The ultrasound section core has two ultrasound scanners for research:

  • Vevo 770™ from VisualSonics: A high-frequency scanner designed to scan small animals. The new state-of-the-art scanner provides exquisite high resolution images at ultrasound frequencies of 30-50 MHz. The scanner enables in-vivo assessment of anatomical structures and hemodynamic functions in longitudinal studies.

    The scanner has pulsed-wave Doppler for quantitative blood flow velocity and waveform measurements. The ECG of the animal can be monitored on screen. The M-mode of the scanner monitors tissue motion, which is useful for characterizing blood vessels, heart dynamics and wall thickening. The scanner is equipped with 3D and power Doppler imaging for visualizing blood vessel branching and blood flow patterns spatially and temporally. The scanner's Mouse Handling Platform maintains animal core temperature, and monitors the ECG and other physiological measurements.

  • Vevo LAZR Imaging System: Photoacoustic imaging is a new in vivo hybrid imaging modality that combines the sensitivity and contrast of optical imaging with the depth and resolution of ultrasound. When pulsed laser light illuminates tissue, the optical absorbers there (such as hemoglobin) undergo thermoelastic expansion, generating an acoustic pressure wave which is detected with an ultrasound transducer.

    The Vevo LAZR system incorporates photoacoustic imaging into high-resolution ultrasound. The ultrasound imaging provides a high-resolution frame of reference for identifying anatomy, while the photoacoustic imaging enables functional measurements such as oxygen saturation, total hemoglobin and the microdistribution of biomarkers.

    Advantages of Photoacoustic Imaging:

    • Optical contrast for blood and molecular imaging
    • High resolution at depth
    • Real-time, non-invasive
    • Anatomical, functional and molecular data
  • Philips HDI-5000: This scanner operates at clinical ultrasound frequencies 4-15 MHz and provides imaging in various modes including fundamental and harmonic grayscale, Color Doppler, power Doppler, spectral Doppler, and M-mode. The scan-heads available for imaging are: C8-5, CL10-5, L12-5, C5-2, L7-4, C8-9, C9-5, C7-4, PQ3, and P4-2. This scanner is most suited to contrast-enhanced ultrasound imaging.
  • Zonare ZS3: The ZS3 premium ultrasound system is the ultimate imaging platform for your entire range of applications or specialties; including vascular, neonatal, pediatric, shared services or general imaging. Equipped with pioneering, software based ZONE Sonography® Technology (ZST), the ZS3 provides clinical advantages in every imaging situation. With extreme precision, focus and clarity, regardless of body habitus, detailed exquisite B-mode and ultrasensitive color, power and spectral Doppler imaging can easily reach depths of 40cm. With fast transaction times between modes and an ergonomic, lightweight and mobile design, the ZS3 is the answer to all of your imaging questions.

Ultrasound Image Analysis Software: Through collaboration with the Ultrasound Research Laboratory, the core members can access image analysis software for quantifying tissue structure, tissue vascularity and tissue blood flow. The software has comprehensive tools for evaluating large sets of sonographic and Doppler images. These tools are of special interest to those involved in evaluating the kinetic response of various treatments including drugs and pharmaceuticals.

Contrast enhanced sonography: The use of micro-bubble based contrast agents for enhancing ultrasound images is now FDA-approved for cardiac imaging, and being evaluated for other clinical applications. Ultrasound Research Services has the resources necessary for performing this type of imaging in both fundamental and harmonic modes. The capability for both qualitative and quantitative assessment of such images also exists within Ultrasound Research Services.

Quantitative analysis of images: All the ultrasound images used for research purposes are recorded on videotapes. There is a facility for labeling individual frames on the tape and digitizing them frame by frame for computer analysis. An extensive software package has been developed in-house that allows semi-automated analysis of large data sets (up to 10,000 images per set) of sonographic and Doppler images. This resource allows monitoring of flow and gray-scale changes at a temporal resolution of 30 ms. The software has a large set of tools for measuring regional and global changes in vascularity and gray scale texture. This computer program is particularly suited for evaluating the kinetic response of the organs to pharmaceuticals.

Who can benefit from these resources?
Investigators with existing grants and protocols approved by the animal care committees (IACUC). Investigators who plan to submit grants and need help in developing imaging protocols. Investigators who need pilot data. On a limited scale, Ultrasound Research Services will help the investigators acquire feasibility data, which can help to strengthen grant proposals. Investigators who are interested in using ultrasound imaging to monitor vascular and tissue response of various pharmaceuticals and other forms of therapies.

Small Animal Studies

Imaging small animals: Gray-scale, 3D, M-Mode, color Doppler and power Doppler imaging are available using frequencies ranging from 12 MHz to 40 MHz. The latest high frequency technology is available with linear transducers ranging from 30 MHz to 40 MHz. Interventional assistance can be provided with great resolution and accuracy in extremely small and difficult cases.

Measuring blood flow velocity: Spectral Doppler imaging can provide a variety of measures and indices in both arterial and venous flow.

Measuring tissue motion: M-mode imaging is available for measuring tissue motion is cardiac and other applications.

Contrast enhanced sonography: The use of micro-bubble based contrast agents for enhancing ultrasound images is now FDA-approved for cardiac imaging, and being evaluated for other clinical applications. Ultrasound Research Services has the resources necessary for performing this type of imaging in both fundamental and harmonic modes. The capability for both qualitative and quantitative assessment of such images also exists within Ultrasound Research Services.

Photoacoustics: Image acquisition and quantitation can be performed with the Vevo LAZR Imaging System (FUJIFILM VisualSonics, Inc.). This system combines micro-ultrasound and photoacoustic imaging into a common platform. Light generated from a tunable laser (680–970 nm) is delivered through fiber optic bundles integrated into a linear array ultrasonic transducer (LZ250, fc = 21 MHz; LZ550, fc = 50 MHz). As reported recently, tissue oxygenation—specifically, oxygen saturation consistent with hypoxia in the tumor—can be imaged and quantified in minutes. This characterization exploits the differing optical absorption of a dominant photoacoustic absorber called hemoglobin when it is oxygenated or deoxygenated. In fact, changing tissue vasculature is an aggressive phenotype in cancer progression. Maps characterizes the tumor as well as oxygenation and poorly oxygenated areas.

Please note:

  • NIH sponsored mice are charged per mouse, all other cost are per hour and it is possible to do more than one animal per hour.
  • Investigators are responsible for all prep work on mice.
  • Data acquired during the imaging session(s) will be held for a maximum of 3 months. It is the responsibility of the investigator to obtain the data and make any back ups necessary for long term storage of the data.


  Hourly Per Mouse Per Mouse
Corporate Animal $234 + contrast $88 w/contrast $65 w/out contrast
NIH Animal $204 + contrast $82 w/contrast $60 w/out contrast
Image Analysis Corporate $141    
Image Analysis NIH $116    

To utilize Ultrasound Research Services at PENN, please:

  • Obtain approval for your project from the appropriate animal care committees.
  • Contact Dr. Chandra Sehgal to discuss the project and set up an account at Ultrasound Research Services. You will need to provide the following information to set all accounts:
    • Protocol number and approval date
    • Source of funding
    • Contact information for manager/coordinator of the grant and business administrator
    • Number of subjects you expect to scan within a specifically designated time frame
    • Completed and approved SAIF application


Chandra (Sandy) Sehgal, PhD
Sub Core Director, Ultrasound and Professor of Radiology
Department of Radiology
Office: 215-349-5461

Susan M. Schultz, RDMS
Sub Core Technical Director, Ultrasound
Office: 215-573-0972

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