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1 This overview aimed to collect and discuss the main topics investigated in studies carried out using laboratory micro-CT in dentistry and maxillofacial surgery, published in the last ten years and its potential in developing new studies. + 723 word(s) 723 2020-07-03 10:37:00 |
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Micro-Computed Tomography
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Micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) is a consolidated imaging technology allowing non-destructive three-dimensional (3D) qualitative and quantitative analysis by the observation of microstructures with high resolution. This paper Ten Years of Micro-CT in Dentistry and Maxillofacial Surgery: A Literature Overview aims at delivering a structured overview of literature about studies performed using micro-CT in dentistry and maxillofacial surgery (MFS) by analyzing the entire set of articles to portray the state of the art of the last ten years of scientific publications on the topic. 

micro-computed tomography In Vitro and In/Ex Vivo Applications Bone Tissue Regeneration X-ray microtomography review micro-CT Bioengineering Biomaterials Dentistry Maxillofacial surgery
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Update Date: 23 Feb 2021
Table of Contents

    1. Introduction

    The first X-ray microtomography or micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) system was conceived in the early 1980’s, and in 1994, the first commercially available bone micro-CT scanner was presented [1][2].

    Nowadays, micro-CT systems are present as lab instrumentations at main laboratories and companies to perform different types of investigations and for various applications, including educational purposes [3][4]. Micro-CT represents one of the main methods to perform non-destructive analysis and one of the most common microscopy methods [5] where the very fine scale internal structure of objects is imaged, providing high resolution volumetric data at a micron level. It allows for the investigation of microstructures, the accuracy detection of the geometries [6][7][8][9], eventually defects and difference in density and morphology. It does not require specimen preparation, staining and slicing; settings and parameters were extensively studied for specific structures [10].

    It has great potential for biomedical and bioengineering applications [11]. The analyses carried out by micro-CT can be helpful also in terms of compliance to international standards, regulations, and in forensic practice [12][13]. Microtomographic analyses can affect the validation process of materials and the quality assessment of final devices. Recently, in the medical device sector, the growing interest in emerging manufacturing techniques as the additive ones, allowed to recognize micro-CT as one of the major tools for the product quality assessment and for the quality control of additive manufacturing (AM) products and materials [6][14][15][16].

    Dentistry and maxillofacial surgery (MFS) represent two sectors that affect the biomedical engineering context and in which there was an extensive use of the micro-CT due to the necessity to acquire detailed information of small and complex objects, mineralized structures [17][18][19], and with different densities. The market is characterized by innovative materials and solutions that require advanced technology in routine-based activity of dental labs and clinics as the micro-CT scanning [20], whose capabilities turn out to be indispensable [21][22][23].

    The authors have extensive knowledge and experience about micro-CT and its application in biomedical studies and in both fields addressed here [6][7][24][25][26][27][28][29][30][31]. Specifically, in this work, the first author (I. Campioni) independently reviewed and organized the records identified from the database searches to assess the initial eligibility and both the authors (I. Campioni and R. Pecci) fully reviewed the search results. Disagreements were resolved by reaching a consensus or consulting the third and senior author (R. Bedini). In the early 2000’s, R. Bedini believed in such technology and had engaged many research funds in the purchase of equipment to perform three-dimensional (3D) microtomography and to undertake research collaborations to study the effectiveness of this 3D methodology compared to the traditional ones, such as histology and electron microscopy [7][8][14][15][24][25][26][27][28][30][31][32].

    The aim of the present Paper is to deliver a structured overview of the literature, highlighting the main applications of micro-CT in dentistry and MFS, and considering the set of articles published in English from 2010 to January 2020 in PubMed/MEDLINE and Scopus (excluding Medline records from search results). Furthermore, the work has the goal to address the studies involving lab-based applications of micro-CT for research and clinical purposes, thus it does not include the synchrotron-radiation-based X-ray micro-CT [2][33][34][35][36][37][38] and related applications of the latter with other technologies [39].

    2. Conclusions

    Micro-CT is an established technique that has demonstrated various advantages for many applications. In the last ten years, the improvement in image analysis allowed to highlight some opportunities offered by microtomographic technology, which until a decade ago, were considered only as potential benefits.

    The main detected records confirmed that an established range of micro-CT applications are related to studies performed to investigate new biomaterials and their effects on osseointegration, bone structure, bone grafts, and tissue response in dentistry.

    This overview dedicated a section to the challenges of microtomographic evaluations combined with other technologies and techniques, highlighting the growing possibilities and the potential extension of the field of applications.



    1. Rüegsegger, P.; Koller, B.; Müller, R. A microtomographic system for the nondestructive evaluation of bone architecture. Calcif. Tissue Int. 1996, 58, 24–29.
    2. Lin, A.S.P.; Stock, S.R.; Guldberg, R.E. Microcomputed tomography. In Springer Handbook of Microscopy; Hawkes, P.W., Spence, J.C.H., Eds.; Springer International Publishing: Cham, Germany, 2019; p. 2. ISBN 978-3-030-00069-1.
    3. Liao, C.-W.; Fuh, L.-J.; Shen, Y.-W.; Huang, H.-L.; Kuo, C.-W.; Tsai, M.-T.; Hsu, J.-T. Self-assembled micro-computed tomography for dental education. PLoS ONE 2018, 13, e0209698.
    4. Deyhle, H.; Schmidli, F.; Krastl, G.; Müller, B. Evaluating tooth restorations: Micro-computed tomography in practical training for students in dentistry. Int. Soc. Optical Eng. 2010, 7804, 780417.
    5. Daly, S.M. Biophotonics for Blood Analysis; Elsevier: Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2015; ISBN 9780857096746.
    6. Campioni, I.; Cacciotti, I.; Gupta, N. Additive manufacturing of reconstruction devices for maxillofacial surgery: Design and accuracy assessment of a mandibular plate prototype. Ann. Ist. Super. Sanità 2020, 56, 10–18.
    7. Mangione, F.; Meleo, D.; Talocco, M.; Pecci, R.; Pacifici, L.; Bedini, R. Comparative evaluation of the accuracy of linear measurements between cone beam computed tomography and 3D microtomography. Ann. Ist. Super. Sanità 2013, 49, 261–265.
    8. Sinibaldi, R.; Pecci, R.; Somma, F.; Penna, S.D.; Bedini, R. A new software for dimensional measurements in 3D endodontic root canal instrumentation. Ann. Ist. Super. Sanità 2012, 48, 42–48.
    9. Vögtlin, C.; Schulz, G.; Jäger, K.; Müller, B. Comparing the accuracy of master models based on digital intra-oral scanners with conventional plaster casts. Phys. Med. 2016, 1, 20–26.
    10. Cengiz, I.F.; Oliveira, J.M.; Reis, R.L. Micro-computed tomography characterization of tissue engineering scaffolds: Effects of pixel size and rotation step. J. Mater. Sci. Mater. Med. 2017, 28.
    11. Boerckel, J.D.; Mason, D.E.; McDermott, A.M.; Alsberg, E. Microcomputed tomography: Approaches and applications in bioengineering. Stem Cell Res. Ther. 2014, 5, 1–12.
    12. Sandholzer, M.A.; Walmsley, A.D.; Lumley, P.J.; Landini, G. Radiologic evaluation of heat-induced shrinkage and shape preservation of human teeth using micro-CT. J. Forensic Radiol. Imaging 2013, 1, 107–111.
    13. Rutty, G.N.; Brough, A.; Biggs, M.J.P.; Robinson, C.; Lawes, S.D.A.; Hainsworth, S.V. The role of micro-computed tomography in forensic investigations. Forensic Sci. Int. 2013, 225, 60–66.
    14. Bibb, R.; Thompson, D.; Winder, J. Computed tomography characterisation of additive manufacturing materials. Med. Eng. Phys. 2011, 33, 590–596.
    15. Pecci, R.; Baiguera, S.; Ioppolo, P.; Bedini, R.; Del Gaudio, C. 3D printed scaffolds with random microarchitecture for bone tissue engineering applications: Manufacturing and characterization. J. Mech. Behav. Biomed. Mater. 2020, 103, 103583.
    16. Center for Devices and Radiological Health. Technical Considerations for Additive Manufactured Medical Devices-Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff; Center for Devices and Radiological Health: Silver Spring, MD, USA, 2017; ISBN ISBN 3014271934.
    17. Deyhle, H.; Dziadowiec, I.; Kind, L.; Thalmann, P.; Schulz, G.; Müller, B. Mineralization of early stage carious lesions in vitro—A quantitative approach. Dent. J. 2015, 3, 111–122.
    18. Davis, G.R.; Mills, D.; Anderson, P. Real-time observations of tooth demineralization in 3 dimensions using X-ray microtomography. J. Dent. 2018, 69, 88–92.
    19. Davis, G.; Mills, D. High-contrast x-ray microtomography in dental research. In Proceedings of the Developments in X-Ray Tomography XI, San Diego, CA, USA, 26 September 2017; Volume 10391, pp. 187–194.
    20. Leeson, D. The digital factory in both the modern dental lab and clinic. Dent. Mater. 2019, 1, 43–52.
    21. Chalas, R.; Szlazak, K.; Wojcik-Checinska, I.; Jaroszewicz, J.; Molak, R.; Czechowicz, K.; Paris, S.; Swieszkowski, W.; Kurzydlowski, K.J. Observations of mineralised tissues of teeth in X-ray micro-computed tomography. Folia Morphol. 2017, 76, 143–148.
    22. Davis, G.R.; Evershed, A.N.Z.; Mills, D. Quantitative high contrast X-ray microtomography for dental research. J. Dent. 2013, 41, 475–482.
    23. Moinzadeh, A.T.; Zerbst, W.; Boutsioukis, C.; Shemesh, H.; Zaslansky, P. Porosity distribution in root canals filled with gutta percha and calcium silicate cement. Dent. Mater. 2015, 31, 1100–1108.
    24. Grande, N.M.; Plotino, G.; Gambarini, G.; Testarelli, L.; D’Ambrosio, F.; Pecci, R.; Bedini, R. Present and future in the use of micro-CT scanner 3D analysis for the study of dental and root canal morphology. Ann. Ist. Super. Sanità 2012, 48, 26–34.
    25. Meleo, D.; Bedini, R.; Pecci, R.; Mangione, F.; Pacifici, L. Microtomographic and morphometric characterization of a bioceramic bone substitute in dental implantology. Ann. Ist. Super. Sanità 2012, 48, 59–64.
    26. Barboni, B.; Mangano, C.; Valbonetti, L.; Marruchella, G.; Berardinelli, P.; Martelli, A.; Muttini, A.; Mauro, A.; Bedini, R.; Turriani, M.; et al. Synthetic bone substitute engineered with amniotic epithelial cells enhances bone regeneration after maxillary sinus augmentation. PLoS ONE 2013, 8, e63256.
    27. Bassi, M.A.; Bedini, R.; Pecci, R.; Ioppolo, P.; Lauritano, D.; Carinci, F. Mechanical properties of resin glass fiber-reinforced abutment in comparison to titanium abutment. J. Indian Soc. Periodontol. 2015, 19, 273–278.
    28. Bedini, R.; Pecci, R.; Marinozzi, F.; Bini, F.; Rizzo, G.; Campioni, I. Valutazione Morfometrica e Strutturale della Architettura del Tessuto Osseo Trabecolare del Collo del Femore: Analisi Microtomografica; Rapp. ISTISAN; Istituto Superiore di Sanità: Rome, Italy, 2018; pp. 1–36.
    29. Campioni, I.; Cacciotti, I.; Gupta, N. Additive manufacturing in ambito medicale: Valutazione di prototipi di dispositivi di fissaggio per chirurgia maxillo-facciale.In: Bedini R, Pecci R, Meleo D, Meli P, Scarano A. 6° Convegno Nazionale FORM. Forum On Regenerative Methods. Istisan Congr. 2019, 19/C2, 12.
    30. Campioni, I.; Pecci, R.; Pepe, E.; Bedini, R. Metodiche computazionali: Studio di fattibilità per l’analisi di strutture osso-biomateriale. In: Bedini R, Pecci R, Meli P, Meleo D. 2° Convegno Nazionale FORM. Forum On Regenerative Methods. Le metodiche rigenerative nel Servizio Sanitario Nazionale. Istisan Congr. 2015, 15/C1, 7.
    31. Bedini, R.; Pecci, R.; Meleo, D.; Campioni, I. Bone substitutes scaffold in human bone: Comparative Evaluation by 3D Micro-CT Technique. Appl. Sci. 2020, 10, 3451.
    32. Barbetta, A.; Bedini, R.; Pecci, R.; Dentini, M. Role of X-ray microtomography in tissue engineering. Ann. Ist. Super. Sanità 2012, 48, 10–18.
    33. Brunke, O.; Brockdorf, K.; Drews, S.; Müller, B.; Donath, T.; Herzen, J.; Beckmann, F. Comparison between x-ray tube-based and synchrotron radiation-based μCT. In Proceedings of the Developments in X-Ray Tomography VI, San Diego, CA, USA, 16 September 2008; Volume 7078, p. 70780U.
    34. Botta, L.M.; White, S.N.; Deyhle, H.; Dziadowiec, I.; Schulz, G.; Thalmann, P.; Müller, B. Comparing natural and artificial carious lesions in human crowns by means of conventional hard x-ray micro-tomography and two-dimensional x-ray scattering with synchrotron radiation. In Proceedings of the Developments in X-Ray Tomography X, San Diego, CA, USA, 4 October 2016; Volume 9967, pp. 53–63.
    35. Dziadowiec, I.; Beckmann, F.; Schulz, G.; Deyhle, H.; Müller, B. Characterization of a human tooth with carious lesions using conventional and synchrotron radiation-based micro computed tomography. In Proceedings of the Developments in X-Ray Tomography IX, San Diego, CA, USA, 12 September 2014; Volume 9212, pp. 227–233.
    36. Müller, B.; Deyhle, H.; Lang, S.; Schulz, G.; Bormann, T.; Fierz, F.C.; Hieber, S.E. Three-dimensional registration of tomography data for quantification in biomaterials science. Int. J. Mater. Res. 2012, 103, 242–249.
    37. Ogodescu, A.; Manescu, A.; Ogodescu, A.E.; Giuliani, A.; Todea, C. Micro-CT application for infiltration technology in paedodontics and orthodontics. In Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Lasers in Medicine: Biotechnologies Integrated in Daily Medicine, Imisoara, Romania, 19–21 September 2013; Todea, C., Podoleanu, A.G., Duma, V.-F., Eds.; SPIE: Bellingham, WA, USA, 2014; Volume 8925, pp. 51–56.
    38. Brogle-Kim, Y.-C.; Deyhle, H.; Müller, B.; Schulz, G.; Bormann, T.; Beckmann, F.; Jäger, K. Evaluation of oral scanning in comparison to impression using three-dimensional registration. In Proceedings of the Developments in X-Ray Tomography VIII, San Diego, CA, USA, 13–15 August 2012; Stock, S.R., Ed.; SPIE: Bellingham, WA, USA, 2012; Volume 8506, pp. 437–445.
    39. Luckow, M.; Deyhle, H.; Beckmann, F.; Dagassan-Berndt, D.; Müller, B. Tilting the jaw to improve the image quality or to reduce the dose in cone-beam computed tomography. Eur. J. Radiol. 2011, 80, e389–e393.
    Contributors MDPI registered users' name will be linked to their SciProfiles pages. To register with us, please refer to : , ,
    View Times: 682
    Revisions: 4 times (View History)
    Update Date: 23 Feb 2021
    Table of Contents


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      Campioni, I.; Pecci, R.; Bedini, R. Micro-Computed Tomography. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 01 June 2023).
      Campioni I, Pecci R, Bedini R. Micro-Computed Tomography. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed June 01, 2023.
      Campioni, Ilaria, Raffaella Pecci, Rossella Bedini. "Micro-Computed Tomography" Encyclopedia, (accessed June 01, 2023).
      Campioni, I., Pecci, R., & Bedini, R. (2020, July 03). Micro-Computed Tomography. In Encyclopedia.
      Campioni, Ilaria, et al. "Micro-Computed Tomography." Encyclopedia. Web. 03 July, 2020.