3D analysis of bone ultra structure from phase nano-CT imaging

Abstract : Osteoporosis is a bone fragility disease resulting in abnormalities in bone mass and density. In order to prevent osteoporotic fractures, it is important to have a better understanding of the processes involved in fracture at various scales. As the most abundant bone cells, osteocytes may act as orchestrators of bone remodeling which regulate the activities of both osteoclasts and osteoblasts. The osteocyte system is deeply embedded inside the bone matrix and also called lacuno-canalicular network (LCN). Although several imaging techniques have recently been proposed, the 3D observation and analysis of the LCN at high spatial resolution is still challenging. The aim of this work was to investigate and analyze the LCN in human cortical bone in three dimensions with an isotropic spatial resolution using magnified X-ray phase nano-CT. We performed image acquisition at different voxel sizes of 120 nm, 100 nm, 50 nm and 30 nm in the beamlines ID16A and ID16B of the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF - European Synchrotron Radiation Facility - Grenoble). Our first study concerned phase retrieval, which is the first step of data processing and consists in solving a non-linear inverse problem. We proposed an extension of Paganin’s method suited to multi-distance acquisitions, which has been used to retrieve phase maps in our experiments. The method was compared theoretically and experimentally to the contrast transfer function (CTF) approach for homogeneous object. The analysis of the 3D reconstructed images requires first to segment the LCN, including both the segmentation of lacunae and of canaliculi. We developed a workflow based on median filter, hysteresis thresholding and morphology filters to segment lacunae. Concerning the segmentation of canaliculi, we made use of the vesselness enhancement to improve the visibility of line structures, the variational region growing to extract canaliculi and connected components analysis to remove residual noise. For the quantitative assessment of the LCN, we calculated morphological descriptors based on an automatic and efficient 3D analysis method developed in our group. For the lacunae, we calculated some parameters like the number of lacunae, the bone volume, the total volume of all lacunae, the lacunar volume density, the average lacunae volume, the average lacunae surface, the average length, width and depth of lacunae. For the canaliculi, we first computed the total volume of all the canaliculi and canalicular volume density. Moreover, we counted the number of canaliculi at different distances from the surface of each lacuna by an automatic method, which could be used to evaluate the ramification of canaliculi. We reported the statistical results obtained on the different groups and at different spatial resolutions, providing unique information about the organization of the LCN in human bone in three dimensions.
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Boliang Yu. 3D analysis of bone ultra structure from phase nano-CT imaging. Medical Imaging. Université de Lyon, 2019. English. ⟨NNT : 2019LYSEI016⟩. ⟨tel-02191449⟩

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