Human cancellous bone was imaged and its absorptive density accurately measured in three dimensions (3D), nondestructively and at high spatial resolution by means of computerized microtomography (μCT). Essential for achieving the resolution and accuracy was the use of monoenergetic synchrotron radiation (SR) which avoided beam hardening effects, secured excellent contrast conditions including the option of energy-modulated contrast, and yet provided high intensity. To verify the resolution, we selected objects of ~8 μm size that could be observed on tomograms and correlated them in a unique manner to their counter images seen in histological sections prepared from the same specimen volume. Thus we have shown that the resolution expected from the voxel size of 8 μm used in the μCT process is in effect also attained in our results. In achieving the present results no X-ray-optical magnification was used. From μCT studies of composites (Bonse et al., X-ray tomographic microscopy (XTM) applied to carbon-fibre composites. In: Materlik G, ed. HASYLAB Jahresbericht 1990. Hamburg: DESY, 1990;567–568) we know that by including X-ray magnification a resolution below 2 μm is obtained. Therefore, with foreseeable development of our μCT method, the 3D and nondestructive investigation of structures in mineralized bone on the 2 μm level is feasible. For example, it should be possible to study tomographically the 3D distribution and amount of osteoclastic resorption in the surrounding bone structure.
Keywords: Computerized tomography; Microtomography; Histological section; Synchrotron radiation; Bone trabecular structure