Three-Dimensional Printed Abdominal Imaging Windows for In Vivo Imaging of Deep-Lying Tissues

Mitchell Kuss, Ayrianne J. Crawford, Olawale A. Alimi, Michael A. Hollingsworth, Bin Duan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ability to microscopically image diseased or damaged tissue throughout a longitudinal study in living mice would provide more insight into disease progression than having just a couple of time points to study. In vivo disease development and monitoring provides more insight than in vitro studies as well. In this study, we developed permanent 3D-printed, surgically implantable abdominal imaging windows (AIWs) to allow for longitudinal imaging of deep-lying tissues or organs in the abdominal cavity of living mice. They are designed to prevent organ movement while allowing the animal to behave normally throughout longitudinal studies. The AIW also acts as its own mounting bracket for attaching them to a custom 3D printed microscope mount that attaches to the stage of a microscope and houses the animal inside. During the imaging of the living animal, cellular and macroscopic changes over time in one location can be observed because markers can be used to find the same spot in each imaging session. We were able to deliver cancer cells to the pancreas and use the AIW to image the disease progression. The design of the AIWs can be expanded to include secondary features, such as delivery and manipulation ports and guides, and to make windows for imaging the brain, subcutaneous implants, and mammary tissue. In all, these 3D-printed AIWs and their microscope mount provide a system for enhancing the ability to image and study cellular and disease progression of deep-lying abdominal tissues of living animals during longitudinal studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number697
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • intravital imaging
  • pancreatic tumor
  • surgical implantation
  • two-photon microscope

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Control and Optimization
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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