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Table 3 Performance of different modalities applicable for depth-resolved (volumetric) imaging of the CNS.

From: Multifunctional Nanocarriers for diagnostics, drug delivery and targeted treatment across blood-brain barrier: perspectives on tracking and neuroimaging

Imaging method Anatomical
contrast
Molecular/Functional
contrast
Sensitivity to
contrast agents
Spatial
resolution
(*)
Penetration
depth
Cost Safety Applicability
X-Ray CT Medium Poor μmol (10-6) 10-500 μm
scalable
Whole-body Medium Medium Pre-clinical/
Clinical
MRI Good Medium nmol (10-9) 30-500 μm
scalable
Whole-body High Good Pre-clinical/
Clinical
PET/SPECT Poor Good fmol (10-14) 1 - 5 mm Whole-body High Medium Pre-clinical/
Clinical
3D light microscopy Good Good fmol (10-14) 0.2 - 10 μm Superficial (<1 mm) Medium Good Pre-clinical
FMT Poor Good pmol (10-12) 1 - 2 mm ~20 mm Low Good Pre-clinical
MSOT microscopy/
tomography
Good Good pmol (10-12) 5 - 200 μm
scalable
~30 mm Low Good Pre-clinical/
Clinical
  1. (*) Spatial resolution usually depends on the overall size of the imaged object/area therefore a range is provided