Guidelines for the assessment of bone density and microarchitecture in vivo using high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography

Osteoporos Int. 2020 Sep;31(9):1607-1627. doi: 10.1007/s00198-020-05438-5. Epub 2020 May 26.


Introduction: The application of high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography (HR-pQCT) to assess bone microarchitecture has grown rapidly since its introduction in 2005. As the use of HR-pQCT for clinical research continues to grow, there is an urgent need to form a consensus on imaging and analysis methodologies so that studies can be appropriately compared. In addition, with the recent introduction of the second-generation HrpQCT, which differs from the first-generation HR-pQCT in scan region, resolution, and morphological measurement techniques, there is a need for guidelines on appropriate reporting of results and considerations as the field adopts newer systems.

Methods: A joint working group between the International Osteoporosis Foundation, American Society of Bone and Mineral Research, and European Calcified Tissue Society convened in person and by teleconference over several years to produce the guidelines and recommendations presented in this document.

Results: An overview and discussion is provided for (1) standardized protocol for imaging distal radius and tibia sites using HR-pQCT, with the importance of quality control and operator training discussed; (2) standardized terminology and recommendations on reporting results; (3) factors influencing accuracy and precision error, with considerations for longitudinal and multi-center study designs; and finally (4) comparison between scanner generations and other high-resolution CT systems.

Conclusion: This article addresses the need for standardization of HR-pQCT imaging techniques and terminology, provides guidance on interpretation and reporting of results, and discusses unresolved issues in the field.

Keywords: Bone microarchitecture; Guidelines; High-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography; Imaging protocol.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Bone Density*
  • Humans
  • Osteoporosis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Radius / diagnostic imaging
  • Tibia
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed