How Micro-CT Machines Aid the Study of Bone Structure and Development

Bones are an essential part of human and animal bodies – offering protection, structure and support, as well as facilitating movement. They have intricate structures, and understanding their development is crucial for various fields, including anthropology, medicine and palaeontology. One of the most accurate and effective ways of analysing bone structure is through Micro-CT. This non-destructive, high-resolution imaging technology has drastically improved scientific research into bone structure and development, and in this blog post, we look at how.

Understanding Bone Structure

Micro-CT provides numerous benefits to scientists, but before we look at what they are, we discuss the important role bones have in supporting our bodies. Bones comprise multiple elements, including connective tissues with calcium and living bone cells, collagen, minerals and proteins arranged in an intricate hierarchical structure. This structure provides bones with unique properties, such as flexibility, strength and their ability to recover from breaks and fractures. 

Understanding bone structure is crucial for a variety of reasons. It enables researchers to gain further insight into diseases and evolutionary changes and to understand individual human lifestyles such as diet, age and other factors.

An Introduction to Micro-CT Technology

Micro-CT, also known as micro-computed tomography, has been pivotal for bone research. It is a nondestructive imaging technique that uses X-ray technology to produce high-resolution 3D images of bone structures and is a quicker method than traditional techniques such as histology or slicing. The key principle behind micro-CT is that a sample plate rotates the sample 360 degrees as X-ray beams are directed through it. A detector system receives these X-rays, and sophisticated software is used to convert the projections into a reconstructed 3D image of the sample. 

The final image allows researchers to identify a range of bone features, such as damage, density, structure and any abnormalities, all of which can be used for an in-depth study of bone development, structure and more. 

How is Micro-CT Supporting Bone Research?

Micro-CT has become an invaluable tool in studying bone structure and development, and its capabilities have had a significant impact on advancing research within the field. One of the biggest advantages of micro-CT in bone research is its nondestructive method, meaning bone samples can be closely inspected without being damaged and enabling them to be used in further studies. 

Some of the common applications micro-CT is used for in bone studies is looking at growth patterns and how different therapies and treatments impact bone health. Growth pattern analysis is crucial to helping researchers understand how bones develop, grow and repair over time, aiding future research into suitable disease treatments.

The key benefits of using micro-CT are its noninvasive method and the ability to reconstruct high-resolution 3D images of a bone sample. This means that samples can be reused and reanalysed multiple times without any damage, and the internal structure of a bone sample can be presented clearly for accurate measurements and analysis. 

Where Can I Find a Micro-CT Instrument for Bone Research?

Choosing the right micro-CT instrument for your research is critical to the success of your results. Blue Scientific offers a range of Bruker’s micro-CT instruments designed for bones and dental research, along with various other fields, such as additive manufacturing, geology and pharmaceuticals.

Two micro-CT machines suitable for bone research include the Bruker SkyScan 1275 and 1273, and both offer high-quality 3D X-ray micro-CT scans of bone samples extremely quickly. The 1275 is an automated desktop machine that offers flexible, highly automated micro-CT for various samples. In contrast, the 1273 is a benchtop microscope uniquely designed for larger, heavier samples up to and including the size of a human skull, ideal for palaentology research  that could previously only be scanned by a floor-based system. 

Contact us today to learn more about the micro CT machines Blue Scientific provides.