Animal research

Imaging studies benefit from standard protocols

Standardising procedures used for imaging studies in animals can help to improve the translation of research findings to benefit people, a study has found.

Researchers specifically looked at a type of scan called PET/CT, which is used for tracking diseases in patients and assessing treatment responses.


PET/CT is also used in preclinical animal studies aimed at better understanding diseases and developing new medicines.

Experts at Edinburgh Imaging assessed the protocols used for animal studies at five different PET/CT scanners in Europe and the USA.


They found substantial variations that resulted in quantitative differences in results, which would have an impact on how the findings are interpreted.

The researchers developed and tested standard procedures for PET/CT scanning in preclinical studies involving animals.

Standard methods

Their aim is to standardise the methods used in different centres and laboratories, so that research findings can be more accurately compared.

3Rs benefits

Benefits of having common protocols are that results from different scanners and centres can be more accurately compared, while reduced variability in results should mean that fewer animals are needed for each study.

The standard approach is also a refinement over current procedures as it reduces the levels of radiation each animal is exposed to during the scanning process.

Having standard protocols for preclinical PET/CT studies will help to improve the translation of research findings from animal studies into clinical studies, bringing forward better research techniques to help with the development of new diagnostic biomarkers and treatments for patients.

Dr Adriana TavaresResearch Fellow in PET Imaging

Related links

Journal article

Edinburgh Imaging