Impact of anomalous vertebral segmentation on measurements of bone mineral density

J Bone Miner Res. 1993 Jun;8(6):719-23. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.5650080610.


In anteroposterior (AP) bone mineral density (BMD) measurements of the lumbar spine (LS), the presence of ribs is used to identify vertebra T12. Similarly, in lateral LS-BMD measurements, the position of the iliac crest is used to identify the lumbar vertebrae. The aim of this study was to determine the impact of variations in spinal segmentation and iliac crest position on BMD measurements. In 375 women (ages 50-85 years) radiographs were taken of the thoracic and lumbar spine, as well as AP measurement of LS-BMD, by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). In 121 subjects lateral decubitus LS-BMD was also measured. Anomalous spinal segmentation was found in 16.5%, and L1 would have been incorrectly identified on the AP-DXA image in 13%. The change in BMC and BMD between adjacent vertebrae was greater in the upper than the lower lumbar spine. Misidentification of L1 for T12 resulted in underestimation of the bone mineral content in grams (BMC) of L1 by a mean of 11.5 +/- 14.4% (SD; range -33.5 to 33.5%). For the usual region of interest, L2-4, the BMC (g) was underestimated by 8.4 +/- 8.7% (range -1.5 to 29.2%), with the BMD (g/cm2) underestimated by 3.6 +/- 4.8% (range -5.4 to 11.6%). The position of the iliac crest on the lateral decubitus DXA scans would have led to misidentification of either L2 or L4 for L3 in 15 cases (12%). This resulted in the BMD of L3 being underestimated by 2.7 +/- 19.4% (range -242.4 to 34.6%).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bone Density / physiology*
  • Bone Diseases, Metabolic / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ilium / abnormalities
  • Ilium / metabolism
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / abnormalities*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Random Allocation