Association of Phantomless Dual-Energy CT-based Volumetric Bone Mineral Density with the Prevalence of Acute Insufficiency Fractures of the Spine

Published:December 26, 2022DOI:

      Rationale and Objectives

      To evaluate the bone mineral density (BMD) of the lumbar spine derived from dual-energy CT (DECT)-based volumetric material decomposition and its association with acute insufficiency fractures of the thoracolumbar spine.

      Materials and Methods

      L1 of 160 patients (77 men, 83 women; mean age 64.3 years, range, 22-94 years) who underwent third-generation dual-source DECT between January 2016 and December 2021 due to suspected insufficiency fractures was retrospectively analyzed. All depicted vertebrae were examined for signs of recent fractures. A dedicated DECT postprocessing software using material decomposition was applied for phantomless BMD assessment. Receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) analysis identified optimal BMD thresholds. Associations of BMD, sex, and age with the occurrence of insufficiency fractures were examined with logistic regression models.


      A DECT-derived BMD threshold of 120.40 mg/cm³ yielded 90.1% specificity and 59.32% sensitivity to differentiate patients with at least one insufficiency fracture from patients without fracture. No patient without fracture had a DECT-derived BMD below 85 mg/cm3. Lower DECT-derived bone mineral density was associated with an increased risk of insufficiency fractures (Odds ratio of 0.93, 95% CI, 0.91-0.96, p < 0.001). Overall ROC-derived AUC was 0.82 (p < 0.0001) for the differentiation of patients that sustained an insufficiency fracture from the control group.


      Dual-Energy CT-based BMD assessment can accurately differentiate patients with acute insufficiency fractures of the thoracolumbar spine from patients without fracture. This algorithm can be used for phantomless risk stratification of patients undergoing routine CT to sustain insufficiency fractures of the thoracolumbar spine The identified cut-off value of 120.4 mg/cm³ is in line with current American College of Radiology (ACR) recommendations to differentiate healthy individuals from those with reduced bone mineral density.

      Key Words


      ACR (American College of Radiology), AUC (Area under the curve), BMD (Bone mineral density), DECT (Dual-energy computed tomography), DXA (Dual x-ray absorptiometry), HU (Hounsfield unit), PACS (Picture Archiving and Communication System), QCT (Quantitative computed tomography), ROC (Receiver-operating characteristic), ROI (Region of interest), VOI (Volume of interest)
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