Microtomographic system for laboratory (microCT) is a miniaturized form of the traditional computerized tomography. It allows for three-dimensional (3D) investigations of small radiopaque objects, with a high resolution of few micrometers, in a noninvasive and nondestructive way. Compared with the conventional electron microscopy techniques that produce only bidimensional images, the microCT is used to obtain a three-dimensional analysis of a sample with no need to cut and no need of particular surface treatments at all. Therefore, the microCT may satisfy the ideal requirements of 3D microscopy.
In this chapter, through a clinical research work of bone tissue regenerative medicine, we want to highlight the peculiar characteristics of this laboratory instrumentation for 3D imaging.
Three different bone substitute biomaterials were implanted in the human bone in an in vivo clinical study. Subsequently, human bone samples grafted with the aforementioned biomaterials were studied by microCT and histology analysis.
Then, 2D histological and 3D microCT images of these samples have been obtained, together with morphometric analysis performed on the microCT data. Although the microCT analysis shows better results for investigating bone substitute biomaterials implanted in human bone tissue, the histological analysis is still to be complementarily coupled for the observation of soft tissues and blood vessels.
Therefore, the main objective of this research work was to provide surgeons with the most suitable bone substitute to be used as scaffolds in specific clinical applications.
In tissue engineering, the benchtop microCT can then contribute to the design of a 3D biocompatible scaffold for the in vitro growth of autologous cells and, more generally, for wound repair and tissue regeneration.
X-ray benchtop microtomography (microCT) Tissue engineering Bone substitute biomaterials Human bone
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The authors acknowledge and thank Prof. G. Soda of Sapienza, University of Rome, Experimental Medicine Dept., for having supported the microCT observation with histological analysis.
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