High resolution quantitative computed tomography-based assessment of trabecular microstructure and strength estimates by finite-element analysis of the spine, but not DXA, reflects vertebral fracture status in men with glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis

Bone. 2013 Feb;52(2):568-77. doi: 10.1016/j.bone.2012.10.036. Epub 2012 Nov 10.


High-resolution quantitative computed tomography (HRQCT)-based analysis of spinal bone density and microstructure, finite element analysis (FEA), and DXA were used to investigate the vertebral bone status of men with glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis (GIO). DXA of L1-L3 and total hip, QCT of L1-L3, and HRQCT of T12 were available for 73 men (54.6±14.0years) with GIO. Prevalent vertebral fracture status was evaluated on radiographs using a semi-quantitative (SQ) score (normal=0 to severe fracture=3), and the spinal deformity index (SDI) score (sum of SQ scores of T4 to L4 vertebrae). Thirty-one (42.4%) subjects had prevalent vertebral fractures. Cortical BMD (Ct.BMD) and thickness (Ct.Th), trabecular BMD (Tb.BMD), apparent trabecular bone volume fraction (app.BV/TV), and apparent trabecular separation (app.Tb.Sp) were analyzed by HRQCT. Stiffness and strength of T12 were computed by HRQCT-based nonlinear FEA for axial compression, anterior bending and axial torsion. In logistic regressions adjusted for age, glucocorticoid dose and osteoporosis treatment, Tb.BMD was most closely associated with vertebral fracture status (standardized odds ratio [sOR]: Tb.BMD T12: 4.05 [95% CI: 1.8-9.0], Tb.BMD L1-L3: 3.95 [1.8-8.9]). Strength divided by cross-sectional area for axial compression showed the most significant association with spine fracture status among FEA variables (2.56 [1.29-5.07]). SDI was best predicted by a microstructural model using Ct.Th and app.Tb.Sp (r(2)=0.57, p<0.001). Spinal or hip DXA measurements did not show significant associations with fracture status or severity. In this cross-sectional study of males with GIO, QCT, HRQCT-based measurements and FEA variables were superior to DXA in discriminating between patients of differing prevalent vertebral fracture status. A microstructural model combining aspects of cortical and trabecular bone reflected fracture severity most accurately.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00503399.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon*
  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Finite Element Analysis*
  • Glucocorticoids / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / pathology*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporosis / chemically induced*
  • Osteoporosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Osteoporosis / physiopathology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Spinal Fractures / diagnostic imaging*
  • Spinal Fractures / physiopathology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*


  • Glucocorticoids

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00503399