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The Open Access Journal of Science and Technology


MicroCT Bone Densitometry: Context Sensitivity, Beam Hardening Correction and the Effect of Surrounding Media

Author(s): Philip L. Salmon and Xuan Liu

The context-sensitivity of microCT bone densitometry due to beam hardening artefacts was assessed. Bones and teeth are scanned with varying thickness of surrounding media (water, alcohol, biological tissue) and it is important to understand how this affects reconstructed attenuation (“density”) of the mineralized tissue. Aluminium tubes and rods with thickness 0.127mm– 5mm were scanned both in air or surrounded by up to 2cm of water. Scans were performed with different energy filters and degrees of software beam hardening correction (BHC). Also tested were the effects of signal-to-noise ratio, magnification and truncation. The thickness of an aluminium tube significantly affected its mean reconstructed attenuation. This effect of thickness could be reduced substantially by BHC for scans in air, but not for scans in water. Varying thickness of surrounding water also changed the mean attenuation of an aluminium tube. This artefact could be almost eliminated by an optimal BHC value. The “cupping” artefact of heterogeneous attenuation (elevated at outer surfaces) could be corrected if aluminium was scanned in air, but in water BHC was much less effective. Scan truncation, changes to magnification and signal-to-noise ratio also caused artificial changes to measured attenuation. Measurement of bone mineral density by microCT is highly context sensitive. A surrounding layer of liquid or biological tissue reduces the ability of software BHC to remove bone density artefacts. Sample thickness, truncation, magnification and signal to noise ratio also affect reconstructed attenuation. Thus it is important for densitometry that sample and calibration phantom dimensions and mounting materials are standardised.

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