Turkish Journal of Medical Sciences




Background/aim: This study aimed to evaluate the diagnostic efficacy of vertebral Hounsfield unit (HU) values on routine contrast-enhanced abdominal computed tomography (CT) scans for the assessment of osteoporosis using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) T-scores as a reference standard.Materials and methods: A total of 111 consecutive patients who underwent contrast-enhanced abdominal CT examination for any indication and DXA within a 6-month period were retrospectively analyzed. The CT attenuation values of trabecular bone in HUs were measured in axial and sagittal planes from lumbar vertebrae 1-4 (L1-L4). The correlation between the DXA T-scores and HU values measured on the CT scans was evaluated by Pearson's correlation test. Areas under the curves (AUCs) were calculated by receiver operating characteristic analysis for diagnostic proficiency, and threshold values were determined. Paired t-test and Bland-Altman plot test were used to evaluate the correlation between axial and sagittal HU values.Results: There was a strong correlation between the DXA T-scores and HU values of all the lumbar vertebrae (P < 0.001). The highest correlation was for the L3 vertebra; L3 was thus chosen for additional analyses. The mean axial and sagittal L3 attenuations were 133.7 HU and 131.9 HU, respectively. The axial measurements were not significantly different from the sagittal measurements, with a mean difference of 1.8 HU (P > 0.05). The L3 axial CT attenuation threshold for 90% sensitivity was 170 HU and that for 90% specificity was 102 HU for distinguishing osteoporosis from osteopenia and normal bone mineral density (BMD). To distinguish the low BMD group from the normal group, the L3 axial CT attenuation threshold for approximately 90% sensitivity was 102 HU and for 90% specificity was 165 HU.Conclusion: The HUs derived from routine contrast-enhanced abdominal CT scans can be used for the evaluation of osteoporosis, without additional radiation exposure and cost.


Contrast-enhanced CT, bone mineral density, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, osteoporosis

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