Quantitative analysis of bone and soft tissue by micro-computed tomography: applications to ex vivo and in vivo studies
Graeme M Campbell and Antonia Sophocleous
Micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) is a high-resolution imaging modality that is capable of analysing bone structure with a voxel size on the order of 10 mm. With the development of in vivo micro-CT, where disease progression and treatment can be monitored in a living animal over a period of time, this modality has become a standard tool for preclinical assessment of bone architecture during disease progression and treatment. For meaningful comparison between micro-CTstudies, it is essential that the same parameters for data acquisition and analysis methods be used. This protocol outlines the common procedures that are currently used for sample preparation, scanning, reconstruction and analysis in micro-CTstudies. Scan and analysis methods for trabecular and cortical bone are covered for the femur, tibia, vertebra and the full neonate body of small rodents. The analysis procedures using the software provided by ScancoMedical and Bruker are discussed, and the routinely used bone architectural parameters are outlined. This protocol also provides a section dedicated to in vivo scanning and analysis, which covers the topics of anaesthesia, radiation dose and image registration. Because of the expanding research using micro-CT to study other skeletal sites, as well as soft tissues, we also provide a review of current techniques to examine the skull and mandible, adipose tissue, vasculature, tumour severity and cartilage. Lists of recommended further reading and literature references are included to provide the reader with more detail on the methods described.