PCMD »Imaging Core User Guide

User Guide

The table below provides a quick aide for selecting the appropriate imaging modality for your musculoskeletal (MSK) imaging project. For optimal results, consultation with the Imaging Core Director or Associate Director is highly recommended.

Imaging Modality


  1. MRI = Magnetic Resonance Imaging
    CT = Computed Tomography (includes micro-CT)
    US = Ultrasound
    PET = Positron Emission Tomography
    Optical = Bioluminescence, Fluorescence, and Near-Infrared (NIR) Imaging
  2. All modalities can generate 2D images, but not all can generate 3D tomographic data.
  3. All modalities can generate image data that can be used both for qualitative assessment and for quantitative measurements, however quantitative analysis may require additional calibration methods.
  4. All modalities can be used for both in vivo and ex vivo image acquisition, however in vivo acquisition places additional constraints on the capabilities of each.
  5. Soft tissues = muscle, cartilage, tendon, disc, skin.
  6. Calcified tissues = bone.
  7. Molecular imaging refers to the use of exogenous agents and/or intrinsic biochemistry to generate image contrast that is directly related to processes occurring at the molecular level. Examples: T1-rho, Sodium-23, and CEST MRI.
  8. Spatial resolution is highly dependent on the specifics of the object being imaged, but generally can range from a few microns to a few millimeters.