In attempt to improve diagnostic agreement between manufacturers, a recent software update incorporated NHANES III data in GE Lunar densitometers. As a result, the femur neck and trochanter T-scores were lowered, and osteoporosis prevalence was increased. Use of a recalculated young-normal SD for the GE Lunar-adjusted NHANES III database improved diagnostic agreement and is recommended.
Introduction: Use of manufacturer-specific normative databases for T-score derivation leads to discordance in T-score values and differences in diagnostic classification. To address this issue, the International Committee for Standards in Bone Measurement (ICSBM) recommended the NHANES III database for femur T-score derivation. Acquired on Hologic (Hol) instruments, this database requires conversion equations for application to other DXA systems. NHANES III total femur (TF) conversions for GE Lunar (GE) have previously been available, and femoral neck (FN) and trochanter (TR) equations were reported recently. Per the ICSBM recommendation, GE Lunar incorporated these values into their female database. This should produce T-score and diagnostic agreement between Hol and GE instruments; however, this has not been evaluated.
Materials and methods: We compared GE femur scans in 115 postmenopausal women using software before and after the NHANES III software update. Subsequently, T-scores derived from femur scans obtained on GE and Hol densitometers were compared in a different group of 89 postmenopausal women.
Results: The NHANES III software update had no effect on measured BMD (g/cm2) at any femur region. However, because of changes in values used for T-score calculation (increase in the mean young-normal BMD at the FN and TR and a reduction in SD at the TR), the T-scores were lower (mean, 0.48 and 0.68, respectively) at the FN and TR using post-NHANES III software. Consequently, this update increased femur osteoporosis prevalence in these 115 women from 7.8% to 18.3%. Comparison of GE with Hol total proximal femur T-scores revealed a minimal difference (<0.1) and equal diagnoses of osteoporosis. FN and TR differences were larger, with mean GE T-scores lower than Hol (p < 0.001) by 0.17 and 0.50, respectively, thereby introducing osteoporosis diagnostic disagreement (13 [GE] versus 9 [Hol]). Our evaluation suggested that this disparity resulted from direct application of published NHANES III SDs at the FN and TR. As such, we applied the conversion formulae to the NHANES III published Hologic data and found the FN and TR SDs were greater than assumed by GE. Using our recalculated SD to derive T-scores reduced the mean GE/Hol T-score difference to 0.03 at the FN and 0.32 at the TR and resolved osteoporosis diagnostic disagreement.
Conclusion: The GE NHANES III software update leads to lower FN and TR T-scores than obtained with Hol or prior GE software. Recalculation of the young-normal SD reduces this difference and is recommended. Clinicians are advised to avoid using the TR for diagnosis or, at a minimum, use caution when making treatment decisions based solely on T-score at this site.