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Bone mineral densitometry (BMD) is useful in predicting fracture risk, but, unfortunately, there is a significant degree of overlap in BMD measurements of patients who have a high risk of fracture and patients with a low risk of fracture. In this study, a method of characterizing trabecular bone structure in digitized radiographs of vertebrae is proposed and assessed. A significant correlation between bone "structure" and the compressive strength of vertebral bodies was found. The utility of the parameter for distinguishing between "weak" and "strong" bone samples was assessed using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis. Using this analysis, the structural parameter produced an area under the ROC of 0.88 +/- 0.05, while a bone density measure produced an area of 0.79 +/- 0.07. The results suggest that the addition of a measure of bone structure to the conventional measures of bone density may prove useful in predicting the quality of bone when considering surgical or medical intervention for osteoporotic conditions.

Original publication




Journal article


Med phys

Publication Date





611 - 615


Bone Density, Bone and Bones, Humans, Lumbar Vertebrae, Mathematics, Models, Theoretical, Radiography, Spine, Tensile Strength, Thoracic Vertebrae