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Visualization and analysis of skeletal microstructure with computed tomography

Abstract

Osteoporosis is a condition which causes increased fragility of the bone. Existing methods used clinically today to evaluate osteoporotic patients only measure the bone mineral density. It would be of great value if the three-dimensional structure of trabecular bone could be measured in vivo. The aim of this thesis is to implement a method for assessing trabecular bone using clinical CT. Several parameters have been derived from volumes acquired with three different clinical CT systems. The image analysis methods used include automated region growing, three-dimensional thinning and centers of maximal balls (CMB). 15 bone biopsies were analysed. The results have been evaluated using micro-CT as reference. The results show that the trabecular bone cannot be correctly represented using clinical CT due to the low resolution. However, the correlation between clinical CT and micro-CT measurements show that changes in the trabecular structure could perhaps be monitored. The results could be improved if volumes with lower noise level and smaller slice thickness could be produced.
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