Rapid declines in bone mineral density (BMD) at the knee after spinal cord injury (SCI) are associated with an increased risk of fracture. Evaluation of bone quality using the trabecular bone score (TBS) may provide a complimentary measure to BMD assessment to examine bone health and fracture risk after SCI. The purpose of this study was to assess bone mineral density (BMD) and trabecular bone score (TBS) at the knee in individuals with and without SCI. Nine individuals with complete SCI (mean time since SCI 2.9 ± 3.8 yr) and 9 non-SCI controls received dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scans of the right knee using the lumbar spine protocol. BMD and TBS were quantified at epiphyseal, metaphyseal, diaphyseal, and total bone regions of the distal femur and proximal tibia. Individuals with SCI illustrated significantly lower total BMD at the distal femur (23%; p = 0.029) and proximal tibia (19%; p = 0.02) when compared with non-SCI controls. Despite these marked differences in BMD from both locations, significant differences in total TBS were observed at the distal femur only (6%; p = 0.023). The observed differences in total BMD and TBS could be attributed to reductions in epiphyseal rather than metaphyseal or diaphysis measurements. The relationship between TBS and duration of SCI was well explained by a logarithmic trend at the distal femoral epiphysis (r2 = 0.54, p = 0.025). The logarithmic trend would predict that after 3 yr of SCI, TBS would be approximately 6% lower than the non-SCI controls. Further evaluation is needed to determine if TBS measures at the knee provide important information about bone quality that is not captured by traditional BMD.
Keywords: Bone mineral density; bone quality, bone loss; knee; trabecular bone score.
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