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Tissue Eng Part C Methods. 2012 Nov;18(11):859-65. doi: 10.1089/ten.TEC.2012.0123. Epub 2012 Jul 2.

Imaging of poly(α-hydroxy-ester) scaffolds with X-ray phase-contrast microcomputed tomography.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL 60616, USA.


Porous scaffolds based on poly(α-hydroxy-esters) are under investigation in many tissue engineering applications. A biological response to these materials is driven, in part, by their three-dimensional (3D) structure. The ability to evaluate quantitatively the material structure in tissue-engineering applications is important for the continued development of these polymer-based approaches. X-ray imaging techniques based on phase contrast (PC) have shown a tremendous promise for a number of biomedical applications owing to their ability to provide a contrast based on alternative X-ray properties (refraction and scatter) in addition to X-ray absorption. In this research, poly(α-hydroxy-ester) scaffolds were synthesized and imaged by X-ray PC microcomputed tomography. The 3D images depicting the X-ray attenuation and phase-shifting properties were reconstructed from the measurement data. The scaffold structure could be imaged by X-ray PC in both cell culture conditions and within the tissue. The 3D images allowed for quantification of scaffold properties and automatic segmentation of scaffolds from the surrounding hard and soft tissues. These results provide evidence of the significant potential of techniques based on X-ray PC for imaging polymer scaffolds.

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