Micro-computed tomography (microCT) is an emerging technique for the non-destructive assessment and analysis of the three-dimensional cancellous bone architecture. However, the procedures the procedures and applications used to quantify bone structures are not yet standardized. The aim of this study was to provide more insight in the resolution-dependency of microstructural properties of three-dimensional trabecular bone. Ten iliac crest bone biopsies were measured using a newly devised microCT system providing a nominal isotropic resolution of 14 microns. To study the resolution dependency the measured data were reconstructed on reduced image arrays with reduction factors ranging from 2 to 20. To assess the structural properties, morphometric parameters were computed based on a truly three-dimensional approach. The results showed a strong resolution dependency of the structural properties and that, if very precise results are needed, only the highest resolution will predict the correct values. Nevertheless, since the properties either decrease or increase monotonously up to a nominal resolution of about 175 microns, the values appear to be restorable using a suitable calibration procedure.
Keywords: Micro-computerd tomography (μCT); trabecular bone architecture; quantitative bone morphology; 3D structural analysis; image resolution