Understanding bone mechanics at different hierarchical levels is fundamental to improve preclinical and clinical assessments of bone strength. Digital Volume Correlation (DVC) is the only experimental measurement technique used for measuring local displacements and calculating local strains within bones. To date, its combination with laboratory source micro-computed tomography (LS-microCT) data typically leads to high uncertainties, which limit its application. Here, the benefits of synchrotron radiation micro-computed tomography (SR-microCT) for DVC are reported. Specimens of cortical and trabecular bovine bone and murine tibiae, were each scanned under zero-strain conditions with an effective voxel size of 1.6 μm. In order to consider the effect of the voxel size, analyses were also performed on downsampled images with voxel size of 8 μm. To evaluate displacement and strain uncertainties, each pair of tomograms was correlated using a global DVC algorithm (ShIRT-FE). Displacement random errors for original SR-microCT ranged from 0.024 to 0.226 μm, depending on DVC nodal spacing. Standard deviation of strain errors was below 200 microstrain (ca. 1/10 of the strain associated with physiological loads) for correlations performed with a measurement spatial resolution better than 40 μm for cortical bovine bone (240 μm for downsampled images), 80 μm for trabecular bovine bone (320 μm for downsampled images) and murine tibiae (120 μm for downsampled images). This study shows that the uncertainties of SR-microCT-based DVC, estimated from repeated scans, are lower than those obtained from LS-microCT-based DVC on similar specimens and low enough to measure accurately the local deformation at the tissue level.
Synchrotron; microCT; Digital volume correlation; Bone; Strain; Uncertainties