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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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Barium sulphate and soft-tissue radiology: allying the old and the new for the investigation of animal cutaneous microcirculation.

Quinodoz, P., Quinodoz, M., Nussbaum, J.L., Montandon, D. and Pittet, B.

British Journal of Plastic Surgery, 55(8), 664-667 (2002).

The study of microcirculation using angiography is essential to the advancement of flap and angiogenesis research in plastic surgery. Until the mid-1980s, barium sulphate was the most commonly used contrast material, although it did not provide optimal visualisation of the vascular tree. In 1986, a new technique using lead oxide was proposed, which permitted very high-quality imaging and rapidly became the technique of choice, despite its high toxicity. We reconsider the former technique of barium-sulphate injection and combine it with soft-tissue radiology using mammographic film to achieve a radiological definition similar to that obtained with lead oxide, and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the two methods. We conclude that barium sulphate and the use of mammographic film is an accurate, simple and non-toxic method of analysing the cutaneous circulation in small animals.