Accuracy of cortical and trabecular bone measurements with peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT)

Phys Med Biol. 1998 Oct;43(10):2873-83. doi: 10.1088/0031-9155/43/10/015.


In order to assess the accuracy of peripheral QCT (Stratec XCT 960) we analysed scans of the European Forearm Phantom and another phantom consisting of K2HPO4 encased in aluminium tubes to simulate cortical walls. Additionally 14 cadaveric forearm specimen scans were compared to CT scans acquired on a GE9800Q. The accuracy for density assessment of the European Forearm Phantom was better than 3%. A small increase in density was observed with increasing thickness of the aluminium wall (10% for each mm). Density measurements within the wall were confounded by limited spatial resolution. For a thickness of less than 4 mm, the density within the wall was underestimated by up to 40%. The measurement of mineral content was not influenced by this effect and showed an accuracy error of less than 6%. The agreement of density measurements on the different CT systems was very strong (R2 > 0.96; RMSE < 6.2%). Our findings suggest that the Stratec pQCT scanner very accurately measures volumetric trabecular and total bone mineral densities at the distal radius while the assessment of cortical density is associated with considerable inaccuracies due to limited spatial resolution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aluminum
  • Bone Density
  • Bone and Bones / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cadaver
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Forearm / diagnostic imaging*
  • Fractures, Bone / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Phosphates / chemistry
  • Tomography Scanners, X-Ray Computed
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / instrumentation
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*


  • Phosphates
  • Aluminum