MAFAC Partners with the World Authority of Soft-Tissue Micro-CT, Prof. Hun-Mu Yang From The Yonsei University College of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea

Prof. Hun-Mu Yang and his team, who have published the world’s leading papers on the use of micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) for the demonstration of soft tissue organization, have accepted to work with MAFAC on the production of micro-CT scans of the midcheek and jowl tissues, which will serve as supportive evidence of the anatomical dissection studies conducted by the MAFAC Research team.

Micro-CT is a new technique developed over the last few decades. It is a miniaturized version of computed tomographs (CT) commonly used by radiologists and the system now has a resolution in the order of 2 μm. Individual images are first stacked and reconstructed to produce a three-dimensional view of the tissues. Micro-CT provides high resolution 3D imaging information that can’t be obtained by any other non-destructive technology. It can be used to study the interior structure of biological samples without having to cut the samples such as in histological slicing, which can potentially alter or destroy them. These unique features of micro-CT scanning allow the detailedmorphology of a sample to be studied including relation, structure, fibre orientation, etc.

Since the introduction of micro-CT in the 1990s more than 90% of research publications that have employed this technology have focused on bone research. Prof. Yang and his team were among the first researchers to apply this technique to the study of soft tissues in the face, preparing them with phosphotungstic acid (PTA) staining before scanning to enhance the soft-tissue contrast. Over the last five years, they have conducted ground-breaking research making use of the micro-CT technique and published numerous papers on detailed facial anatomy.4–8 Their research has demonstrated that micro-CT is exceptional for the visualization of the connective tissue embedded within fat layers. Amongst the structures that his research could describe in detail was the orbicularis retaining ligament (ORL), appearing as a multilaminar structure unlike the traditional teachings of an unilaminar or bilaminar structure, and the nasolabial fold, created by the insertion of the upper lip levator muscles into the nasolabial crease.

MAFAC’s research team has been closely following Prof. Yang’s work for over a year now and has been in contact with Prof. Yang since May 2020. However, it wasn’t until April 2021, after the micro-CT facilities at the University of Melbourne had not been able to accommodate the MAFAC research, that Dr. Minelli and Dr. Mendelson contacted prof. Yang for help with the production of micro-CT scans. As luck would have it, Prof. Yang and his team were in search of a clinical specialist to provide their team with valuable clinical advice. In the absence of a clinician, their research team, consisting of pure anatomists, had been focusing on the anatomical features rather than clinical implication. Therefore, the collaboration between the Yonsei University’s Department of Anatomy and MAFAC was a perfect match.

Micro-CT will be invaluable for the research done by MAFAC providing additional evidence to support the cadaver dissection findings. The structures which are currently studied with the micro-CT technique include the malar fat pad, the jowl and the SMAS. More information will follow soon.

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  2. Holdsworth DW, Drangova M, Fenster A. A high‐resolution XRII‐based quantitative volume CT scanner. Med Phys. 1993;20(2):449-462.
  3. Rüegsegger P, Koller B, Müller R. A microtomographic system for the nondestructive evaluation of bone architecture. Calcified Tissue Int. 1996;58(1):24-29.
  4. O J, Kwon H-J, Choi Y-J, Cho T-H, Yang H-M. Three-dimensional structure of the orbicularis retaining ligament: an anatomical study using micro-computed tomography. Sci Rep-uk. 2018;8(1):17042.
  5. O J, Kwon H-J, Kim SH, Cho T-H, Yang H-M. Use of Micro X-ray Computed Tomography with Phosphotungstic Acid Preparation to Visualize Human Fibromuscular Tissue. J Vis Exp. 2019;(151).
  6. Kwon H-J, O J, Cho T-H, Choi Y-J, Yang H-M. The Nasolabial Fold: A Micro–Computed Tomography Study. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2020;145(1):71-79.
  7. Hur M, O. J, Yang H-M, et al. Heights and spatial relationships of the facial muscles acting on the nasolabial fold by dissection and three-dimensional microcomputed tomography. Plos One. 2020;15(8):e0237043.
  8. O. J, Kwon H-J, Cho T-H, Woo SH, Rhee Y-H, Yang H-M. Micro-computed tomography with contrast enhancement: An excellent technique for soft tissue examination in humans. Plos One. 2021;16(7):e0254264.