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      A new scanning electron microscopy approach to the quantification of bone mineral distribution: backscattered electron image grey-levels correlated to calcium K alpha-line intensities.

      Scanning microscopy

      Syndrome, Bone Density, Bone Diseases, Metabolic, pathology, Bone Marrow Diseases, Bone and Bones, chemistry, ultrastructure, Calcium, analysis, Edema, Electron Probe Microanalysis, methods, Femur Head, Humans, Microscopy, Electron, Scanning

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          The introduction of backscattered electron (BSE) imaging in scanning electron microscopy (SEM) has led to new possibilities for the evaluation of mineral distributions in bone on a microscopic level. The different grey-levels seen in the BSE-images can be used as a measure for the local mineral content of bone. In order to calibrate these BSE-grey-levels (BSE-GL) and correlate them to mineral contents, various attempts, using reference samples with known weighted mean atomic number and/or using simulated bone tissues with known hydroxyapatite concentrations, have been made. In contrast, a new approach is presented here based on measurements of the X-ray intensities of the calcium K alpha-line on selected areas of real bone samples; the measured intensities are then related to the corresponding BSE-GL. A linear positive correlation between weight percent (wt%) calcium and BSE-GL was found. When the BSE-mode is standardized using carbon and aluminum as references, the different mineral contents in bone samples can be recorded as BSE-GL, calibrated to wt% of calcium or hydroxyapatite (HA), respectively. The resulting mineral concentration histograms have a dynamic range from 0 to 89 wt% HA and have a binwidth resolution of 0.45 wt% HA. The presented modifications of the BSE method strongly enhance its feasibility in the field of bone research and its application as a special diagnostic tool for bone diseases.

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