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DXA Estimates of Vertebral Volumetric Bone Mineral Density in Children: Potential Advantages of Paired Posteroanterior and Lateral Scans

Journal of Clinical Densitometry
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.jocd.2006.05.008
  • Original Article


Abstract Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) estimates of areal bone mineral density (BMD) are confounded by bone size in children. Two strategies have been proposed to estimate vertebral volumetric BMD: (1) bone mineral apparent density (BMAD) is based on the posteroanterior (PA) spine scan; (2) width-adjusted bone mineral density (WABMD) is based on paired PA lateral scans. The objective of this study was to compare DXA estimates of vertebral bone mineral content (BMC), volume and volumetric BMD obtained from Hologic PA scans (Hologic, Inc., Bedford, MA) alone, and paired PA lateral scans in 124 healthy children, ages 4 to 20 yr. The PA scans were used to estimate bone volume (PA Volume) as (PA Area) 1.5 and BMAD as [(PA BMC)/(PA Volume)]. Paired PA lateral scans were used to estimate width-adjusted bone volume (WA Volume) as [(π/4)(PA width)(lateral depth)(vertebral height)] and WABMD as [(lateral BMC)/(WA Volume)]. Generalized estimating equations were used to compare the relationship between scan type (PA vs. paired PA lateral) and bone outcomes, and the effects of height and maturation on this relationship. The estimates of BMC and volume derived from PA scans and paired PA lateral scans were highly correlated (r > 0.97); WABMD and BMAD were less correlated (r = 0.81). The increases in BMC, volume, and volumetric BMD with greater height and maturation were significantly larger (all p < 0.001) when estimated from paired PA lateral scans, compared with PA scans alone. The proportion of spine BMC contained within the vertebral body, versus the cortical spinous processes, increased significantly with age ( p < 0.001) from 28% to 69%. The smaller increases in bone measures on PA scans may have been due to magnification error by the fan beam as posterior tissue thickness increased in taller, more mature subjects, and the distance of the vertebrae from the X-ray source increased. In conclusion, paired Hologic PA lateral scans may increase sensitivity to growth-related increases in trabecular BMC and density in the spine, with less bias due to magnification error.

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