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Micro-computed tomography: high resolution imaging of bone and implants in three dimensions

Seminars in Orthodontics
Elsevier - WB Saunders
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1053/j.sodo.2004.01.005
  • Mathematics
  • Medicine


Abstract The success of orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedic treatment depends on effective anchorage and a favorable osseous adaptation to applied loads. The quality of bone produced under therapeutic conditions depends on its matrix organization, degree of mineralization, and geometric distribution. To adequately assess the mechanical properties of orthodontic anchorage devices, such as dental implants, requires three-dimensional (3D) imaging of block specimens. Micro-computed tomography (micro CT) has opened new scientific frontiers for analyzing mineralized tissue. The method is particularly useful for the technically demanding task of assessing mineral density patterns for bone supporting titanium implants. However, this digital imaging technology has not been directly compared with the gold standard for that task, which is microradiography. Digital microtomographic and conventional microradiographic images of the same implant integrated in cortical bone were compared with digital subtraction radiography. A gray level concordance of 126.7 ± 11.4 (mean ± SD) demonstrated excellent agreement between the images. Because it is a 3D nondestructive method, which achieves higher resolution and is more sensitive to gray level changes than microradiography, it was concluded that the micro CT is the new gold standard for assessment of bone supporting implants. Micro CT of a threaded implant integrated into a dog femur showed intense remodeling activity at the interface and within supporting bone. Threaded implants have foci of remodeling associated with individual threads, while cylindrical devices have a more global response concentrated on the center of the endosseous portion of the implant. Micro CT is a novel digital technology that shows great promise for detecting subtle changes in osseous structure that are related to dental implants, orthodontic responses, and dentofacial orthopedics.

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