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 Kα-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 O 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.
Roschger, P.; Plenk, H. Jr.; Klaushofer, K.; and Eschberger, J.
"A New Scanning Electron Microscopy Approach to the Quantification of Bone Mineral Distribution: Backscattered Electron Image Grey-Levels Correlated to Calcium Kα-Line Intensities,"
Scanning Microscopy: Vol. 9
, Article 4.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/microscopy/vol9/iss1/4