Quantitative assessment of collagen fibre orientations from two-dimensional images of soft biological tissues
Journal of The Royal Society Interface 2012-7-30
In this work, we outline an automated method for the extraction and quantification of material parameters characterizing collagen fibre orientations from two-dimensional images. Morphological collagen data among different length scales were obtained by combining the established methods of Fourier power spectrum analysis, wedge filtering and progressive regions of interest splitting. Our proposed method yields data from which we can determine parameters for computational modelling of soft biological tissues using fibre-reinforced constitutive models and gauge the length scales most appropriate for obtaining a physically meaningful measure of fibre orientations, which is representative of the true tissue morphology of the two-dimensional image. Specifically, we focus on three parameters quantifying different aspects of the collagen morphology: first, using maximum-likelihood estimation, we extract location parameters that accurately determine the angle of the principal directions of the fibre reinforcement (i.e. the preferred fibre directions); second, using a dispersion model, we obtain dispersion parameters quantifying the collagen fibre dispersion about these principal directions; third, we calculate the weighted error entropy as a measure of changes in the entire fibre distributions at different length scales, as opposed to their average behaviour. With fully automated imaging techniques (such as multiphoton microscopy) becoming increasingly popular (which often yield large numbers of images to analyse), our method provides an ideal tool for quickly extracting mechanically relevant tissue parameters which have implications for computational modelling (e.g. on the mesh density) and can also be used for the inhomogeneous modelling of tissues.