Estimation of bone mineral density by digital X-ray radiogrammetry: theoretical background and clinical testing

Osteoporos Int. 2001;12(11):961-9. doi: 10.1007/s001980170026.


A new automated radiogrammetric method to estimate bone mineral density (BMD) from a single radiograph of the hand and forearm is described. Five regions of interest in radius, ulna and the three middle metacarpal bones are identified and approximately 1800 geometrical measurements from these bones are used to obtain a BMD estimate of the distal forearm, referred to as BMDDXR (from digital X-ray radiogrammetry, DXR). The measured dimensions for each bone are the cortical thickness and the outer width, in combination with an stimate of the cortical porosity. The short-term in vivo precision of BMDDXR was observed to be 0.60% in a clinical study of 24 women and the in vitro variation over 12 different radiological clinics was found to be 1% of the young normal BMDDXR level. In a cohort of 416 women BMDDXR was found to be closely correlated with BMD at the distal forearm measured by dual-energy X-ray absoptiometry (r = 0.86, p < 0.0001) and also with BMD at the spine, total hip and femoral neck (r = 0.62, 0.69 and 0.73, respectively, p<0.0001 for all). The annual decline was estimated from the cohort to be 1.05% in the age group 55-65 years. Relative to this age-related loss, the reported short-term precision allows for monitoring intervals of 1.0 years and 1.6 years in order to detect expected age-related changes with a confidence of 80% and 95%, respectively. It is concluded that the DXR method offers a BMD estimate with a good correlation with distal forearm BMD, a low variation between geographical sites and a precision that potentially allows for relatively short observation intervals.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon / methods
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Bone Density / physiology*
  • Bone and Bones / diagnostic imaging*
  • Bone and Bones / physiology
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Reference Values
  • Reproducibility of Results