Spaan, J.A.E., ter Wee, R., van Teeffelen, J.W.G.E. et al. Med. Biol. Eng. Comput. (2005) 43: 431. doi:10.1007/BF02344722
A technique is presented for the 3D visualisation of the coronary arterial tree using an imaging cryomicrotome. After the coronary circulation of the excised heart was filled with a fluorescent plastic, the heart was frozen and mounted in the cryomicrotome. The heart was then sliced serially, with a slice thickness of 40μm, and digital images were taken from each cutting plane of the remaining bulk material using appropriate excitation and emission filters. Using maximum intensity projections over a series of images in the cutting plane and perpendicular plane, the structural organisation of intramural vessels was visualised in the present study. The branching end in the smallest visible vessels, which define tissue areas that are well delineated from each other by 1–2 mm wide bands populated only by vessels less than 40 μm in diameter. The technique presented here allows further quantification in the future of the 3D structure of the coronary arterial tree by image analysis techniques.