Image processing, analysis and rendering techniques have been used to solve two specific problems in the field of tissue engineering. 2D images of Petri dishes have been acquired and automatically processed in order to assess the average number and size of human Bone Marrow Stromal Cell (BMSC) colonies formed in clonal conditions when different growth factors and hormones were added to the culture. The method developed will provide colony quantitative analysis to determine the proliferating effect of different molecules on BMSC, recently proposed for tissue engineering of cartilage and bone. Histological sections of human Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) were observed using confocal laser scanning optical microscopy and conventional fluorescence optical microscopy to determine the complete map of collagen fibril bundles of the ligament. 2D images were acquired from serial histological sections, registered using an interactive computer based procedure and processed in order to allow an easier identification of single fascicles. These fascicles were then interactively segmented and their 3D structure visualized on the computer screen, using stereo vision and augmented reality techniques. The observation of the real microscopic 3D organization of collagen bundles in the entire ACL will improve the knowledge on its biomechanics and might provide a tool for engineering of new artificial ligaments.
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