Small Animal Echocardiography Core

Small Animal Echocardiography Core

The Small Animal Echocardiography Core provides an imaging resource to support cardiovascular phenotyping efforts. The Core staff offers expertise, materials, training, consultation, access to equipment and performs scanning and analysis on a fee for service basis.

The Core serves Investigators affiliated with the Medical College of Wisconsin on a first come, first served basis. Time lines for projects vary according to the nature of the project and current workload of the Core. Information about fees is available from the Core Medical Director. Successful and timely animal scanning and data analysis requires a concerted, collaborative effort of the Investigator and the Core staff in all stages of the experiment. Investigators planning on utilizing Core services are therefore encouraged to contact the staff early in the planning stages of the experiment.

Core Services

Echocardiography is the cornerstone of the phenotyping process. Its highly versatile nature makes it the non-invasive tool of choice. This form of non-invasive assessment is ideal for performing serial evaluations of cardiac function or real-time monitoring during and after pharmacological or therapeutic intervention.

Echocardiography has the versatility that allows for rapid and comprehensive evaluation of myocardial function, valvular and vascular structure in animal models. Protocols are adaptable to the needs of the investigator.

A comprehensive small animal echocardiogram includes:

  • 2D short- and long-axis cine loops of the heart from the parasternal view
  • 2D guided M-mode image of the left ventricle
  • Doppler recordings of trans-mitral and aortic valve velocities from the apical view
  • Doppler tissue recordings of mitral annular and left ventricular segmental wall motion velocities

Learn More About Core Services

Primary Studies

Screening Echocardiogram

Non-invasive single transthoracic cardiac ultrasound exam performed under anesthesia that includes 2D and M-mode images of the left ventricle and Doppler recordings of trans-valvular flow indices.

  • Data provided at the study end: Spreadsheet with various echo parameters including:
    • LV Fractional Shortening
    • LV Ejection Fraction
    • LV Volumes
    • LV Stroke Volume
    • Septal Thickness in Diastole
    • Posterior Wall Thickness in Diastole
    • LV Dimensions in Diastole and Systole
    • LV Mass

Serial Screening Echocardiogram

Echocardiograms that must occur on specific days and must be repeated on the same animal at a specific later date. Includes all the analysis of a screening echocardiogram at each echo date.

Post Myocardial Ischemia/Infarction Echocardiogram

When regional wall motion abnormalities are expected, then the echocardiographic study requires more than M-mode and 2D images. For these echocardiograms, we will include segmental wall motion analysis with 2D speckle tracking and strain analysis.

  • Data provided at the study end: Spreadsheet with various echo parameters. Data on spreadsheet will include segmental wall strain values, LV end diastolic and systolic volumes, ejection fraction and heart rate.

Post-surgical echocardiograms

Full echocardiograms to document the outcome of a specific surgery other than myocardial infarction (such as TAC, AAB or NAB). This echo may include 2D and M-mode images and analysis of the left ventricle, or Doppler recordings of trans-valvular flow indices (gradients), Doppler recordings (gradients) across the aortic constriction. Analysis of diastolic function may be included for an additional cost.

  • Data provided at the study end: Spreadsheet with various echo parameters. Data on spreadsheet will include gradient measurements at the site of constriction.

Specialty Studies

Emergency Echocardiograms

Previously unscheduled echoes that are necessary to do immediately because the animal is in newly discovered end-stage heart failure and may expire, or other emergent conditions. This also includes non-emergent studies that need to be performed with less than 2 business days notice.

  • Data provided at the study end: Spreadsheet with various echo parameters.

Vascular-Aorta Imaging

Ultrasound scanning is used to delineate structural and functional abnormalities of the aorta or other vessels. Includes an analysis of these parameters and data reporting.

  • Data provided at the study end: Customized depending upon discussion with PI.

Non-Cardiac Scanning

Includes ultrasound imaging of other organs and vasculature including renal, vascular and embryo ultrasounds.

  • Data provided at the study end: Customized depending upon discussion with PI.

Customized Echocardiography

Includes studies that the core staff and the PI have discussed in detail and that are not offered on a routine basis. Analysis and data reporting will be included.

Specialty Analysis

Strain Analysis of Left Ventricle

2D speckle tracking echocardiography is a novel technique that enables the assessment of myocardial strain through the analysis of speckle motion inherently present in a standard, 2D echocardiographic image. This technique is angle independent, preload independent, not affected by tethering between segments and less operator dependent. This technique has been validated in experimental and human studies and found to correspond well to established “gold standard” techniques.

Why use strain imaging for your study?

  • Strain has increased sensitivity in detecting LV systolic dysfunction when compared to conventional LV function analysis. (i.e. ejection fraction and fractional shortening)
  • Strain analysis is better suited for regional wall motion abnormalities
  • Speckle tracking-derived strain correlates with the degree of cardiac fibrosis

  • Data provided at the study end: Spreadsheet with quantitative regional and global strain values.

Strain Rate Analysis of Left Ventricle

Why analyze strain rate for your study?

Diastolic strain rate may be used as an additional surrogate of ventricular fibrosis and segmental relaxation abnormalities.

By providing insight into regional diastolic function, segmental diastolic strain rate can readily uncover the presence and extent of regional ischemia and viability.

  • Data provided at the study end: Spreadsheet with quantitative regional and global strain rate values.

Doppler Analysis of Diastolic Function, Transvalvular Velocities and Valve Regurgitation

We routinely assess LV diastolic function in small animals based on three Doppler-derived parameters: E/E’, Vp, and IVRT/RR. Another index is E/A; however, distinct E and A peaks are generally not discernible in anesthetized rodents. Doppler is also used to assess transvalvular velocities and regurgitant lesions.

  • Data provided at the study end: Spreadsheet with various echo parameters.

Note: Mitral inflow indexes (E, A, and E/A) are complex and subject to misinterpretation because these parameters are dependent on not only intrinsic relaxation properties of the LV but also on other factors such as HR, the volume loading conditions, left atrial–LV pressure gradients, and LV compliance. Although the ratio of peak early transmitral flow velocity (E) to the peak early myocardial tissue velocity (E’) is a more robust indicator of LV diastolic dysfunction, it too has its shortcomings. E’ measures the velocity of myocardial displacement as the LV expands during diastole and can, therefore, be considered a surrogate marker for tau (the time constant of relaxation). Likewise, Vp is relatively independent of changes in preload and heart rate and also closely reflects tau.

Additional Services

Real time monitoring of cardiac procedures

For example, visualization of the heart during direct myocardial injection.

Learn More About the Core

About the Core

About the Small Animal Echocardiography Core

All echocardiograms are performed by a trained sonographer who has over 8 years experience scanning animals including mice, rats, rabbits, pigs and primates. Consultation services are provided by Jennifer Strande, MD, PhD a board-certified cardiologist and Medical Director of the lab. Dr. Strande’s background in cell and molecular biology facilitates interpretation of the findings and correlation with changes at the cellular level. Core staff has a strong background in both clinical medicine and the evaluation of animal models and can help design protocols to answer research questions.




The GE Vivid 7 is a premier cardiovascular ultrasound system.


  • 11 MHz M12 Linear array transducer
  • 8MHz S8 sector transducer
  • Coded harmonic imaging
  • Real-time anatomical M-mode
  • Tissue (speckle) tracking
  • Tissue velocity imaging
  • Spectral Doppler
  • Color flow imaging

GE Vivid 7 cardiovascular ultrasound system from GE Healthcare

The EchoPAC with Q analysis system is available for offline analysis.

EchoPAC with Q analysis system


The Vivid 7 or EchoPAC software is available without a sonographer for a reduced fee.

There is a minimum 3 hour instruction period to teach basic machine function. This will also include minimal ultrasound scanning techniques. This assumes that the investigator has a basic understanding of cardiac anatomy and echocardiographic views and is familiar with the specific echocardiographic equipment being used.

Researchers may also do their own analysis after completing 2 hours of EchoPAC software training.

Users must demonstrate proficient use and cleaning of equipment prior to independent use.

Ultrasound is well suited for the examination and delineation of soft tissue structures; however, echocardiography requires extensive knowledge of cardiac and vascular anatomy, physiology, hemodynamics, ultrasound physics, the Doppler principle and the underlying acoustic physics of color and pulsed wave Doppler. Knowledge of scanning protocols and proficient use of the equipment is also required for the production of quantifiable data.



Investigators are responsible for providing the following disposable supplies needed for small animal imaging.

  • Gloves
  • Pads
  • Paper towels
  • Tape
  • Depilatory agent (i.e. Nair®) or Shaver
  • Baby Oil (only needed if shaving fur)
  • Anesthesia
  • Warming plate

Rodents need to be shaved and anesthetized immediately before the scanning. The type and route of anesthesia should be determined by the investigator prior to initiating the study. Contact the Core Medical Director for recommendations.

Standard Small Animal Cardiac Imaging Protocol
Flowchart for Conducting a Comprehensive Echo Examination in Small Animals

Images are first acquired in the indicated sequence from the various modes within each of the four echo views. The images are subsequently analyzed offline, and the appropriate parameters derived from these measurements. For consistency and to minimize variability, it is essential to maintain the predetermined order and timing of these acquisitions between subjects and for longitudinal measurements within a subject. 2D, two-dimensional; LV, left ventricular; SV, stroke volume; CO, cardiac output; endo, endocardial; epi, epicardial; V, velocity; S, strain; SR, strain rate; WT, wall thickness; FS, fractional shortening; EF, ejection fraction; E, early; A, atrial; Vp, mitral inflow propagation velocity; IVRT, isovolumic relaxation time.

Flow chart adapted from: Cardiovascular Genomics, Methods in Molecular Biology, 2009, Humana Press; 573.




Sonin, D, Wakatsuki, T, Routhu, K, Harmann, L, Peterson M, Meyer, J, Strande, J. Protease-Activated Receptor I Inhibition by SCH79797 Attenuates Left Ventricular Remodeling and Profibrotic Activities of Cardiac Fibroblasts. Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 2013; 18(5): 460-475.

Lenarczyk, M, Lam V, Jensen, E, Fish, B, Su, J, Koporowski, S, Komorowski, R, Harmann, L, Migrino, R, Li, X, Hopewell, J, Moulder, J, Baker, J. Cardiac Injury After 10 Gy Total Body Irradiation: Indirect Role of Effects on Abdominal Organs. Radiation Research, on-line 8/2013.

Sethumadhavan,S, Vasquez-Vivar, J, Migrino, R, Harmann, L, Jacob, H, Lazar, J. Mitochondrial DNA Variant for Complex Reveals a Role in Diabetic Cardiac Remodeling. Journal of Biologic Chemistry, 2012, 287(26):22174-82.

Migrino, R, Bowers, M, Harmann, L, Prost, R, LaDisa, J. Carotid Plaque Regression Following 6-Month Statin Therapy Assessed By 3T MRI: comparison with Ultrasound Intima Media Thickness. Journal of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance, 2011, 13:37.29:1039-46.

Pieper, G, Shah, A, Harmann, L, Cooley, B, Ionova, I, Migrino, R. Speckle Tracking 2-Dimensional Strain Echocardiography: A New Noninvasive Imaging Tool to Evaluate Acute Rejection in Cardiac Transplantation. Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation, 2010; 29:1039-46

Baker, J, Fish, B, Su, J, Haworth, S, Strande, J, Komorowski, R, Migrino, R, Doppalapudi, A, Harmann, L, Li, A, Hopewell, J, Moulder, J. 10gy Total Body Irradiation Increases Risk of Coronary Sclerosis, Degeneration of Heart Structure and Function in a Rat Model. International Journal of Radiation Biology, 2009, 85: 12, 1089-1100.


Migrino R, Harmann L, Brahmbhatt T, Mohyuddin T, Prost R, Christenson R, Jurva J, Woods T. 2-dimensional strain echocardiography for regional assessment of myocardial viability in ischemic heart disease. Abstract and poster presentation at American Society of Echocardiography Scientific Sessions, Seattle, WA. June 2007.

Swarajit, G, Zhang, R, Mader, M, Migrino, R, Harmann, L, Zhao, M, Moulder, J, Jacobs, E, Medhora, M. Radiation-induced injury to the rat lung and right heart: preferential mitigation by captopril over losartan. Abstract presentation Radiation Research Society, Boston, MA. 2008

Strande, J, Routhu, K, Harmann, L, Migrino, R, Baker, J. Improvement of Left Ventricular Remodeling and Function by Protease-Activated Receptor 1 Inhibition in Rats with Heart Failure and Myocardial Ischemia and Reperfusion. Abstract presentation American College of Cardiology Scientific Sessions, Orlando FL. 2009

Gundert, T, Aggarwal D, Kalyanaraman, B, Harmann, L, Migrino, R. Use of Statistical Parametric Mapping (Radial Strain Heat Map Derived from 2D Strain Echo) to Characterize Doxorubicin Cardiomyopathy in Rats. Poster presentation at American Society of Echocardiography Scientific Session, Washington, DC. 2009

Shah, A, Pieper, G, Harmann, L, Cooley, B, Ionova, I, Migrino, R. Strain of the Rejected Heart: Novel Assessment Using 2-dimensional Strain Echocardiography. Abstract presentation American College of Cardiology Scientific Sessions, Atlanta, GA. 2010

Harmann, L, Pieper, G, Shah, A, Cooley, B, Ionova, I, Migrino, R. Speckle-Tracking 2-Dimensional Strain Echocardiography: A New Noninvasive Imaging Tool to Evaluate Rejection in Cardiac Transplantation. American Society of Echocardiography Scientific Sessions, San Diego, CA. June 2010

Feng, G, Narayanan, J, Jacobs, E, Strande, J, Harmann, L, Moulder, J, Down, J, Fish, B, Medhora, M. Pleural effusion and edema by lethal doses of radiation to the whole lungs of WAG/RijCmcr rats. Radiation Research Society, New Orleans, LA. September 2013.

Baker, J, Marek, L, Lam, V, Komorowski, R, Migrino R, Jensen, E, Li, W, Su, J, Harmann, L, Fish, B, Hopewell, J, Moulder, J. Cardiac Injury Following 10 GY Total Body Irradiation: Indirect Role of Effects on Abdominal Organs and Mitigation with Simvastatin. American Heart Association Scientific Sessions, New Orleans, LA. November 2013



Animal Echo Core to provide services for a pre-clinical trial for the treatment of myotubular myopathy (MTM)
University of Washington investigators are studying myotubularin gene transfer in dogs that have an MTM-like disease. Jennifer Strande, MD, PhD and Leanne Harmann, BA, RDCS, RDMS, RVT will provide echocardiography services and expertise during the trial.
Read more about MTM Research

Costs / Fees

Costs / Fees


Hourly rates are invoiced in 15 minute increments, and mileage @ the current IRS limit is added to the invoice, when applicable.


    Per Test per Participant - Interpretation charge per CVC / Internal or External CTSI Principal Investigator & For-Profit Sponsor


    Per Test per Participant / Internal or External Non-Profit or For-Profit Sponsor


Last updated: 08/02/2016 @ 5:01:12 PM

Ultrasound Services

Hourly rates are invoiced in 15 minute increments, and mileage @ the current IRS limit is added to the invoice, when applicable.



  • Non-CTSI Principal Investigator & NON-PROFIT SPONSOR



Last updated: 08/02/2016 @ 5:01:12 PM

Equipment Use
  • Vivid 7

  • EchoPAC

  • Philips iE33


Last updated: 08/02/2016 @ 5:01:12 PM

Request Services

Request Services


Contact the Core Medical Director to establish a project outline, timeline, and to review the experimental design. After review of the project with Core staff, you will need to provide the following documentation to initiate the experiment:

  • Approved Animal Protocol number for animal echocardiography.
  • Scanning Services Request
  • Please contact the Core Medical Director or the Core Technical Director for assistance with scanning requests.

Equipment Use

Please complete the following form to request use of the Vivid 7 ultrasound system or the EchoPac analysis system. Reservations are made on a first-come first-serve basis.

Contact Us

Contact Us

Leanne Harmann, BA, RDCS, RDMS, RVT

Leanne Harmann, BA, RDCS, RDMS, RVT (Primary Contact)
Core Technical Director and Sonographer
voice: (414) 805-7205
fax: (414) 955-6203

Contact Us

Jennifer Strande, MD, PhD

Jennifer Strande, MD, PhD
Core Medical Director
voice: (414) 456-7568
fax: (414) 456-6515

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

NIH Funding Acknowledgment: Important Reminder – Please acknowledge the NIH when publishing papers, patents, projects, and presentations resulting from the use of CTSI resources by including the NIH Funding Acknowledgement.


Zablocki VA Medical CenterMedical College of WisconsinMSOE