Micro-computed tomography: a method for the non-destructive evaluation of the three-dimensional structure of biological specimens

Methods Mol Biol. 2008:455:273-92. doi: 10.1007/978-1-59745-104-8_19.


The large increase in interest in micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) over the last decade reflects the+ need for a method able to non-destructively visualize the internal three-dimensional structure of an object. Thereby, the real beauty of computed tomography lies in the fact that it is available for a large range of nominal resolutions, which allows hierarchical imaging from whole bodies down to the tissue level. Although micro-CT is currently mainly used for imaging of hard tissue (i.e., bone and tooth), future developments might also allow high soft tissue contrast either using appropriate contrast agents or x-ray contrast mechanisms. This chapter aims to review the steps necessary for a successful micro-CT measurement. Although the actual measurement is often machine dependent, the chapter does not describe a specific system but rather lists all steps that eventually have to be considered to set up a measurement, run the measurement, process the image data, and get morphometric indices as a result. The chapter provides an easy understandable manual that should allow newcomers to perform successful measurements and hence to best profit from this powerful technique.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone and Bones / anatomy & histology
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / instrumentation
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Microradiography / instrumentation
  • Microradiography / methods*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / instrumentation
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*