Mapping the nasal airways: Using histology to enhance CT-based three-dimensional reconstruction in Nycticebus

Valerie Burke Deleon, Timothy D. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Three-dimensional reconstructions of imaging data are an increasingly common approach for studying anatomical structure. However, certain aspects of anatomy, including microscopic structure and differentiating tissue types, continue to benefit from traditional histological analyses. We present here a detailed methodology for combining data from microCT and histological imaging to create 3D virtual reconstructions for visualization and further analyses. We used this approach to study the distribution of olfactory mucosa on ethmoturbinal I of an adult pygmy slow loris, Nycticebus pygmaeus. MicroCT imaging of the specimen was followed by processing, embedding, and sectioning for histological analysis. We identified corresponding features in the CT and histological data, and used these to reconstruct the plane of section in the CT volume. The CT volume was then digitally re-sliced, such that orthogonal sections of the CT image corresponded to histological sections. Histological images were annotated for the features of interest (in this case, the contour of soft tissue on ethmoturbinal I and the extent of olfactory mucosa), and annotations were transferred to binary masks in the CT volume. These masks were combined with density-based surface reconstructions of the skull to create an enhanced 3D virtual reconstruction, in which the bony surfaces are coded for mucosal function. We identified a series of issues that may be raised in this approach, for example, deformation related to histological processing, and we make recommendations for addressing these issues. This method provides an evidence-based approach to 3D visualization and analysis of microscopic features in an anatomic context. Anat Rec, 297:2113-2120, 2014.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2113-2120
Number of pages8
JournalAnatomical Record
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014


  • Concha
  • Nasal cavity
  • Olfactory mucosa
  • Soft tissue
  • Turbinal
  • Turbinate
  • Virtual reconstruction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biotechnology
  • Medicine(all)


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