The purpose of this study was the evaluation of 3 different histological methods for studying pulpal blood vessels in combination with 2 types of confocal microscope and computer assisted 3-dimensional reconstruction. 10 human, healthy, free of restorations or caries teeth that were extracted for orthodontic reasons were used. From these teeth, the pulp tissues of 5 were removed, fixed in formalin solution, dehydrated and embedded in paraffin. Serial cross sections 5μm thick were taken from 3 of the above mentioned pulpal tissues and stained with CD34 according to the immunohistochemical ABC technique, while the rest 2 were stained with CD34 and Cy5 by means of immunofluorescence after serial cross sectioning of 10μm. 5 of the 10 teeth were fixed, decalcified, serial cross sectioned (30μm thickness) and stained with eosin. The physical sections were examined under 2 types of confocal laser microscope. Serial images were taken for each section, alignment of the images was followed and finally 3-dimensional reconstructions of the pulpal vessels were achieved.
The combined use of immunofluorescence, confocal microscope and automatic segmentation proved to be a useful method for the detailed study of pulpal vasculature. The above method provides deep knowledge of the form and spatial relationship even of the smallest pulpal blood vessels with neighbouring structures like odontoblasts, which are essential for the fully understanding of their role and function within the dental pulp.