X-ray imaging of poly(ethylene glycol) hydrogels without contrast agents

Eric M. Brey, Alyssa Appel, Yu Chieh Chiu, Zhong Zhong, Ming Huei Cheng, Holger Engel, Mark A. Anastasio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hydrogels have shown promise for a number of tissue engineering applications. However, their high water content results in little or no image contrast when using conventional X-ray imaging techniques. X-ray imaging techniques based on phase-contrast have shown promise for biomedical application due to their ability to provide information about the X-ray refraction properties of samples. Nonporous and porous poly(ethylene glycol) hydrogels were synthesized and imaged using a synchrotron light source employing a silicon analyzer crystal and an X-ray energy of 40-keV. Data were acquired at 21 angular analyzer positions spanning the range of -5 to 5μrad. Images that depict the projected X-ray absorption, refraction, and ultra-small-angle scatter (USAXS) properties of the hydrogels were reconstructed from the measurement data. The poly(ethylene glycol) hydrogels could be discerned from surrounding water and soft tissue in the refraction image but not the absorption or USAXS images. In addition, the refraction images of the porous hydrogels have a speckle pattern resulting in increased image texture in comparison to nonporous hydrogels. To our knowledge, this is the first study to show that X-ray phase-contrast imaging techniques can identify and provide detail on hydrogel structure without the addition of contrast agents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1597-1600
Number of pages4
JournalTissue Engineering - Part C: Methods
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biomedical Engineering


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