Analog vs digital: Testing the comparability and compatibility of diceCT and gross dissection, with special emphasis on muscle tissue
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Diffusible iodine-based contrast-enhanced computed tomography (diceCT) is a new tool in the study of anatomy. With diceCT, researchers can visualize in situ soft tissue, in three dimensional space. The relationship of these results to traditional gross dissection is unknown. Despite this, it has begun to be used for quantitative comparisons. This approach requires more research to determine the comparability of diceCT and gross dissection. To study the relationship of these two methods, the head of a common marmoset, Callithrix jacchus, was stained in 2.5% Lugol’s solution (I2KI) for 37 days. The head CT scanned for digital dissection prior to physical dissection. Amira 5.6 was used for digital segmentation to reconstruct connective, epithelial, muscle, and nervous tissues. Masses of muscle were taken for muscle density comparisons to the previously established mammalian muscle density constants. Based on Bland-Altman analyses, gross dissection and diceCT do not produce comparable measurements in all circumstances. Muscle and epithelial tissue, as well as volumetric measurements are significantly different between gross dissection and diceCT. Muscle densities were also found to be significantly different than previously established constants, through the use of one sample t tests. New, diceCT-calibrated constants are proposed for use with specimens that cannot be dissected. Muscle density is not constant, and should not be treated as such. This process is still widely beneficial when traditional destructive dissection is not possible. It allows for three dimensional views of structures that are not otherwise visible due to size and/or morphology, however, comparisons between gross dissection and diceCT should be approached with caution.