Objectives: To determine the correlation between cervicothoracic and lumbar volumetric bone mineral density (vBMD) in an average cohort of adults and to identify specific diagnostic thresholds for the cervicothoracic spine on the individual subject level.
Methods: In this HIPPA-compliant study, we retrospectively included 260 patients (59.7 ± 18.3 years, 105 women), who received a contrast-enhanced or non-contrast-enhanced CT scan. vBMD was extracted using an automated pipeline ( https://anduin.bonescreen.de ). The association of vBMD between each vertebra spanning C2-T12 and the averaged values at the lumbar spine (L1-L3) was analyzed before and after semiquantitative assessment of fracture status and degeneration, and respective vertebra-specific cut-off values for osteoporosis were calculated using linear regression.
Results: In both women and men, trabecular vBMD decreased with age in the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar regions. vBMD values of cervicothoracic vertebrae showed strong correlations with lumbar vertebrae (L1-L3), with a median Pearson value of r = 0.87 (range: rC2 = 0.76 to rT12 = 0.96). The correlation coefficients were significantly lower (p < 0.0001) without excluding fractured and degenerated vertebrae, median r = 0.82 (range: rC2 = 0.69 to rT12 = 0.93). Respective cut-off values for osteoporosis peaked at C4 (209.2 mg/ml) and decreased to 83.8 mg/ml at T12.
Conclusion: Our data show a high correlation between clinically used mean L1-L3 values and vBMD values elsewhere in the spine, independent of age. The proposed cut-off values for the cervicothoracic spine therefore may allow the determination of low bone mass even in clinical cases where only parts of the spine are imaged.
Key points: vBMD of all cervicothoracic vertebrae showed strong correlation with lumbar vertebrae (L1-L3), with a median Pearson's correlation coefficient of r = 0.87 (range: rC2 = 0.76 to rT12 = 0.96). The correlation coefficients were significantly lower (p < 0.0001) without excluding fractured and moderate to severely degenerated vertebrae, median r = 0.82 (range: rC2 = 0.69 to rT12 = 0.93). We postulate that trabecular vBMD < 200 mg/ml for the cervical spine and < 100 mg/ml for the thoracic spine are strong indicators of osteoporosis, similar to < 80 mg/ml at the lumbar spine.
Keywords: Bone density; Machine learning; Multidetector computed tomography; Osteoporosis; Screening.
© 2022. The Author(s).