The direct examination of three-dimensional bone architecture in vitro by computed tomography



We describe a new method for the direct examination of three-dimensional bone structure in vitro based on high-resolution computed tomography (CT). Unlike clinical CT, a three-dimensional reconstruction array is created directly, rather than a series of two-dimensional slices. All structural indices commonly determined from two-dimensional histologic sections can be obtained nondestructively from a large number of slices in each of three orthogonal directions. This permits a comprehensive description of structural variation within a specimen and greatly facilitates the study of structural anisotropy. A measure of three-dimensional connectivity (Euler number/tissue volume) has been determined for the first time in human cancellous bone and shown to correlate with several two-dimensional histomorphometric indices. The method has the potential for overcoming many of the limitations of current approaches to the study of bone architecture at the microscopic level.