It is estimated that over 200 million people worldwide are affected by osteoporosis. Vertebral fracture risk prediction using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) is confounded by limitations of the technology, such as 2D measurements of bone mineral density (BMD), inability to measure bone distribution and heterogeneity, and potential overestimations of BMD due to degenerative diseases. To overcome these shortcomings, single energy (SE) quantitative computed tomography (QCT) imaging estimates of Hounsfield units (HU) and volumetric BMD have been implemented as alternative methodologies for assessing fracture risk. However, marrow fat within the vertebrae can highly affect the vBMD and fracture properties estimations. To address this issue, 54 vertebrae were dissected from nine cadaveric spines and scanned using SE-QCT (120kVp) and dual energy (DE)-QCT (80/140 kVp), with the latter accounting for marrow fat within the vertebrae. The vertebrae were then scanned using DXA and subjected to mechanical testing to obtain fracture properties. aBMD outcomes from DXA showed a better correlation with DE-QCT vBMD versus SE outcomes [DE: aBMD vs. vBMD (R2: 0.61); SE: aBMD vs. vBMD (R2: 0.27)]. SE-QCT underestimated vertebral vBMD by -56% (p < 0.0001) when compared to DE-QCT. vBMD estimates from SE-QCT could predict 45% and 37% of the vertebral failure loads and stiffness, respectively, compared to 67% and 46% from DE-QCT. DE-QCT vBMD outcomes highly correlated with fracture properties of vertebrae as compared to SE-QCT metrics. As DE scanning has the ability to correct for the effects of bone marrow fat, estimated vBMD from SE-QCT were significantly underestimated compared to DE-QCT. Dual energy CT scanning has the potential to more accurately predict vertebral failure and aid the clinician in the evaluation of appropriate interventions. Future studies should consider implementing DE-QCT in their fracture assessment.
- Vertebral fracture
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism