Boyde, A., L. A. Wolfe, M. Maly and S. J. Jones. Vital confocal microscopy in bone. Scanning. 17:72-85, 1995.

We wished to exploit confocal microscopy for high spatial and temporal resolution vital microscopy in bone. To this end, we evolved implants with glass windows supported in titanium, which were placed in the medial proximal tibial plateau of the rabbit, and special small, self-focussing objectives (dry 10/0.25, water immersion 20/0.45, and oil immersion 45/0.65 and 120/1.0) which mated and matched to the conical window entrance section of the metal components. At intervals of up to 21 months after implant healing, these lenses were used to study live tissue using two genera of confocal microscope: multiple aperture disc, tandem scanning, microscopes for observation in reflection, and video rate confocal laser scanning microscopes for recording, mainly in the fluorescence mode. The latter allowed the study of a variety of intravenously administered substances, including fluorescein, fluorescein-dextrans, fluorescent microspheres, acridine orange, DASPMI, calcein, and tetracycline. We were able to remove blood, stain cells with fluorescent markers, and replace them into the circulation. Calcein and tetracycline bind to the mineral front in bone: this labelling was studied in progress. We observed that both substances partition and remain for long periods (at least days) in adipocytes. Further characterisation of the system used both confocal fluorescence and scanning electron microscopy methods in the study of retrieved implants. These studies showed that the subimplant cortical bone remodelled to a less compact structure with a rich microvasculature extremely close to bone. The points of attachment of bone to glass were found to involve coarse fibres, with the matrix containing large numbers of large cells: some of this tissue was cartilage and some immature bone. An amorphous, mineralised matrix was in immediate contact with glass. The results provide further confirmation of the general utility of high-scan speed confocal methodology in physiology.