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J Bone Miner Metab. 1999;17(1):37-44.

The visualization and evaluation of bone architecture in the rat using three-dimensional X-ray microcomputed tomography.

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  • 1Sanofi Recherche, Montpellier, France.


Microcomputed tomography allows the true three-dimensional structure of bone to be assessed by a nondestructive analysis. This article describes how this technique has for the first time been applied to rat bone to determine the effects of aging, ovariectomy, and antiresorptive drugs on bone structure and how these results compare with those determined by histological and histomorphometric techniques. During the procedure, a micro X-ray source is directed toward the bone sample. Modifications in the X-ray beam induced by bone crystals are determined for a range of acquisitions before three-dimensional reconstruction of bone architecture is performed. Morphometric parameters determined were trabecular bone volume/tissue volume, trabecular number, and trabecular thickness. The results show that ovariectomy has a dramatic effect on rat bone structure. Following treatment with the bone resorption inhibitor tiludronate, the morphometric parameters were significantly improved. The results obtained with three-dimensional microcomputed tomography were in agreement with observations made using classical techniques. Microcomputed tomography should prove useful for evaluating the antiresorptive effects of bisphosphonates on bone architecture and in allowing between-drug comparisons.

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