Zuluaga MA, Orkisz M, Dong P, Pacureanu A, Gouttenoire PJ, Peyrin F
Phys Med Biol 59 (9) 2155-2171 [2014-05-07; online 2014-04-08]
Recent studies emphasized the role of the bone lacuno-canalicular network (LCN) in the understanding of bone diseases such as osteoporosis. However, suitable methods to investigate this structure are lacking. The aim of this paper is to introduce a methodology to segment the LCN from three-dimensional (3D) synchrotron radiation nano-CT images. Segmentation of such structures is challenging due to several factors such as limited contrast and signal-to-noise ratio, partial volume effects and huge number of data that needs to be processed, which restrains user interaction. We use an approach based on minimum-cost paths and geodesic voting, for which we propose a fully automatic initialization scheme based on a tessellation of the image domain. The centroids of pre-segmented lacunæ are used as Voronoi-tessellation seeds and as start-points of a fast-marching front propagation, whereas the end-points are distributed in the vicinity of each Voronoi-region boundary. This initialization scheme was devised to cope with complex biological structures involving cells interconnected by multiple thread-like, branching processes, while the seminal geodesic-voting method only copes with tree-like structures. Our method has been assessed quantitatively on phantom data and qualitatively on real datasets, demonstrating its feasibility. To the best of our knowledge, presented 3D renderings of lacunæ interconnected by their canaliculi were achieved for the first time.