The aim of this work was to present and discuss a quality control protocol for in vitro micro-computed tomography (microCT), based on the adaptation of the quality control protocols for medical computed tomography. The importance of establishing a quality control protocol is related to the opportunity to identify problems on time comparing the microCT images acquired in different time points, and in this way to verify the performance of the device. The proposed quality control protocol was applied for a long-time monitoring period to verify the stability of the micro-tomographic system over time. The protocol proposed in this study was applied to the histomorphometric characterization of bone tissue, but it can be used on a wide range of in vitro microCT applications. Noise and uniformity tests, taken and adapted to micro-tomographic system by medical standard guidelines of quality control, were performed by the use of a water phantom. An accuracy test was designed and performed by the use of a morphometric calibrated phantom. All these tests were performed during a long-time monitoring period to control the stability of the system. Specific control charts and monitoring parameters for each test were used to represent the monthly measures collected during 20 months and an out of control condition was defined. The reference values (baseline), calculated to control the stability of micro-tomographic system over time, were calculated during acceptance/status test. During the period, no out of control conditions in noise, uniformity and accuracy tests were recorded. However, a changing condition was found in noise test, as showed by using statistical C (P < 0.01) and Kruskal-Wallis (P < 0.05) tests. In particular, a Wilcoxon rank sum test with Bonferroni correction (P < 0.0125) was applied in noise test to investigate which of the comparisons among first five acquisitions of year 2004 (group B.L.) and each group was significant (P < 0.0125). The noise showed a slight but significant increase over the years compared to baseline value; however, no out of control conditions were recorded. Nonetheless, a maintenance service to control the performance of mechanical components of microCT was required and performed.
- Quality control protocol
- X-ray microtomography