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.
© 2016 The Authors Journal of Microscopy © 2016 Royal Microscopical Society.