Spinal bone mineral density measured with quantitative CT: effect of region of interest, vertebral level, and technique

Radiology. 1990 May;175(2):537-43. doi: 10.1148/radiology.175.2.2326479.


This study documents the relationship between different vertebral bone compartments with quantitative computed tomography (CT). Four distinct patient groups were investigated: healthy pre- and early postmenopausal women as well as healthy and osteoporotic late postmenopausal women. Three different regions of interest (ROIs) were employed: the elliptical ROI located in the anterior trabecular portion of the vertebral body, the peeled ROI of irregular shape that circumscribes most of the trabecular bone, and the integral ROI including all bone except for the transverse processes. Both single- and dual-energy quantitative CT techniques were employed at T-12 through L-3. Correlation between measurements in the elliptical and peeled ROIs was high (r = .985). The authors concluded that either ROI is acceptable for clinical use. The decrements in bone mineral density (BMD) for the integral ROI were smaller than those for the elliptical ROI. Dual-energy measurements were consistently higher than single-energy measurements. BMD as a function of vertebral level decreased systematically from T-12 to L-3. However, the average density of T-12 through L-3 can be accurately predicted by the average density of L-1 and L-2 (r = .997). Precision did not deteriorate significantly when BMD was expressed as the average of L-1 and L-2 (1.5%) instead of T-12 through L-3 (1.4%). In this study the data suggest a modified quantitative CT protocol for clinical applications in which BMD of only L-1 and L-2 are measured at a fixed gantry tilt.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bone Density*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lordosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Lordosis / etiology
  • Lordosis / pathology
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / diagnostic imaging*
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / pathology
  • Radiography, Dual-Energy Scanned Projection
  • Spine / diagnostic imaging*
  • Spine / pathology
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / pathology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed* / methods