Micro-CT versus synchrotron radiation phase contrast imaging of human cochlea

J Microsc. 2017 Mar;265(3):349-357. doi: 10.1111/jmi.12507. Epub 2016 Dec 9.


High-resolution images of the cochlea are used to develop atlases to extract anatomical features from low-resolution clinical computed tomography (CT) images. We compare visualization and contrast of conventional absorption-based micro-CT to synchrotron radiation phase contrast imaging (SR-PCI) images of whole unstained, nondecalcified human cochleae. Three cadaveric cochleae were imaged using SR-PCI and micro-CT. Images were visually compared and contrast-to-noise ratios (CNRs) were computed from n = 27 regions-of-interest (enclosing soft tissue) for quantitative comparisons. Three-dimensional (3D) models of cochlear internal structures were constructed from SR-PCI images using a semiautomatic segmentation method. SR-PCI images provided superior visualization of soft tissue microstructures over conventional micro-CT images. CNR improved from 7.5 ± 2.5 in micro-CT images to 18.0 ± 4.3 in SR-PCI images (p < 0.0001). The semiautomatic segmentations yielded accurate reconstructions of 3D models of the intracochlear anatomy. The improved visualization, contrast and modelling achieved using SR-PCI images are very promising for developing atlas-based segmentation methods for postoperative evaluation of cochlear implant surgery.

Keywords: Human cochlea; image segmentation; microcomputed tomography; phase contrast imaging; synchrotron radiation; three-dimensional model.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cochlea / anatomy & histology
  • Cochlea / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Radiography / methods*