Accuracy and applicability of dual-energy computed tomography in quantifying vertebral bone marrow adipose tissue compared with magnetic resonance imaging

Insights Imaging. 2022 Nov 26;13(1):181. doi: 10.1186/s13244-022-01326-0.


Objectives: To evaluate the accuracy of dual-energy computed tomography (DECT) in quantifying bone marrow adipose tissue (BMAT) and its applicability in the study of osteoporosis (OP).

Methods: A total of 83 patients with low back pain (59.77 ± 7.46 years, 30 males) were enrolled. All patients underwent lumbar DECT and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanning within 48 h, and the vertebral fat fraction (FF) was quantitatively measured, recorded as DECT-FF and MRI-FF. A standard quantitative computed tomography (QCT) phantom was positioned under the waist during DECT procedure to realize the quantization of bone mineral density (BMD). The intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) and Bland-Altman method was used to evaluate the agreement between DECT-FF and MRI-FF. The Pearson test was used to study the correlation between DECT-FF, MRI-FF, and BMD. With BMD as a gold standard, the diagnostic efficacy of DECT-FF and MRI-FF in different OP degrees was compared by receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve and DeLong test.

Results: The values of DECT-FF and MRI-FF agreed well (ICC = 0.918). DECT-FF and MRI-FF correlated with BMD, with r values of -0.660 and -0.669, respectively (p < 0.05). In the diagnosis of OP and osteopenia, the areas under curve (AUC) of DECT-FF was, respectively, 0.791 and 0.710, and that of MRI-FF was 0.807 and 0.708, and there was no significant difference between AUCs of two FF values (with Z values of 0.503 and 0.066, all p > 0.05).

Conclusion: DECT can accurately quantify the BMAT of vertebrae and has the same applicability as MRI in the study of OP.

Keywords: Bone density; Dual-energy computed tomography; Magnetic resonance imaging; Marrow adipose tissue; Osteoporosis.