Guidelines for assessment of bone microstructure in rodents using micro-computed tomography

Mary L. Bouxsein, Stephen K. Boyd, Blaine A Christiansen, Robert E. Guldberg, Karl J. Jepsen, Ralph Müller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2455 Scopus citations


Use of high-resolution micro-computed tomography (μCT) imaging to assess trabecular and cortical bone morphology has grown immensely. There are several commercially available μCT systems, each with different approaches to image acquisition, evaluation, and reporting of outcomes. This lack of consistency makes it difficult to interpret reported results and to compare findings across different studies. This article addresses this critical need for standardized terminology and consistent reporting of parameters related to image acquisition and analysis, and key outcome assessments, particularly with respect to ex vivo analysis of rodent specimens. Thus the guidelines herein provide recommendations regarding (1) standardized terminology and units, (2) information to be included in describing the methods for a given experiment, and (3) a minimal set of outcome variables that should be reported. Whereas the specific research objective will determine the experimental design, these guidelines are intended to ensure accurate and consistent reporting of μCT-derived bone morphometry and density measurements. In particular, the methods section for papers that present μCT-based outcomes must include details of the following scan aspects: (1) image acquisition, including the scanning medium, X-ray tube potential, and voxel size, as well as clear descriptions of the size and location of the volume of interest and the method used to delineate trabecular and cortical bone regions, and (2) image processing, including the algorithms used for image filtration and the approach used for image segmentation. Morphometric analyses should be based on 3D algorithms that do not rely on assumptions about the underlying structure whenever possible. When reporting μCT results, the minimal set of variables that should be used to describe trabecular bone morphometry includes bone volume fraction and trabecular number, thickness, and separation. The minimal set of variables that should be used to describe cortical bone morphometry includes total cross-sectional area, cortical bone area, cortical bone area fraction, and cortical thickness. Other variables also may be appropriate depending on the research question and technical quality of the scan. Standard nomenclature, outlined in this article, should be followed for reporting of results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1468-1486
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Bone and Mineral Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • μCT
  • Guidelines
  • Micro-computed tomography
  • Nomenclature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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