, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 277-290
Date: 18 Aug 2012

A test of a new method and software for the rapid estimation of cross-sectional geometric properties of long bone diaphyses from 3D laser surface scans

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Abstract

This paper introduces a new methodological approach to the quantification of cross-sectional geometric properties based on 3D laser scan data. A variety of methods have been used to calculate estimates of rigidity in the diaphyses of long bones. CT scan, biplanar radiograph, and periosteal mould techniques have all been applied to collect image data of bone sections to assess biomechanical properties (cross-sectional area and second moments of area). Whilst direct quantification of both endosteal and periosteal contours allows the greatest accuracy, such data correlate highly with a periosteal-only approach that is of greater practical application in many contexts. The advent of non-invasive 3D laser scan technologies presents a method to capture bone surface morphology that can be applied to the study of variation in the cross-sectional properties of human bones. This study tests the correspondence between cross-sectional geometric properties derived from laser scans to those obtained through traditional approaches (periosteal moulding and biplanar radiography). A custom-built program, AsciiSection, is introduced for the automated analysis of biomechanical properties direct from 3D coordinate data. The results indicate that the AsciiSection method is of comparable if not greater accuracy than traditional moulding techniques. The study suggests that there is a strong correlation between mid-diaphyseal cortical bone distribution and cross-sectional geometry calculated using laser scans. The approach provides a viable alternative to traditional techniques for the estimation of biomechanical properties and also allows the collection of rich data and descriptions of morphological variation along the diaphysis.