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IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 1991 Jun;38(6):580-8.

Statistical analysis of collagen alignment in ligaments by scale-space analysis.

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Department of Advanced Digital Processing, Novatel Communications Ltd., Calgary, Alta., Canada.


Injuries to ligaments in the knee are common in sports and other physical activities. Some clinical methods are available for qualitatively evaluating the degree of ligament injury and healing. It is, however, desirable to objectively assess the healing of ligaments and to predicate optimal treatment on quantitative measurements of their structure. Information such as areas of coverage and spatial orientations of collagen fibrils, for example, may provide important information about the internal structure of ligament tissues. Since normal ligament tissues are made up of collagen fibrils which are highly organized, they can be considered as oriented piecewise linear patterns. In this paper, we propose a computational technique for statistical analysis of collagen alignment in ligament images using the scale-space approach. In this method, a ligament image is preprocessed by a sequence of filters which are second derivatives of two-dimensional Gaussian functions with different scales. This gives a set of zero-crossing maps (the scale space) from which a stability map is generated. Significant linear patterns are captured by analyzing the stability map. The directional information in terms of orientation distributions of the collagen fibrils in the image and the area covered by the fibrils in specific directions are extracted for statistical analysis. Examples illustrating the performance of this method with scanning electron microscope images of the collagen fibrils in healing rabbit medial collateral ligaments are presented in this paper.

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