, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 36-42

Cross-calibration of liquid and solid QCT calibration standards: Corrections to the UCSF normative data

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Quantitative computed tomography (QCT) has been shown to be a precise and sensitive method for evaluating spinal bone mineral density (BMD) and skeletal response to aging and therapy. Precise and accurate determination of BMD using QCT requires a calibration standard to compensate for and reduce the effects of beam-hardening artifacts and scanner drift. The first standards were based on dipotassium hydrogen phosphate (K2HPO4) solutions. Recently, several manufacturers have developed stable solid calibration standards based on calcium hydroxyapatite (CHA) in water-equivalent plastic. Due to differences in attenuating properties of the liquid and solid standards, the calibrated BMD values obtained with each system do not agree. In order to compare and interpret the results obtained on both systems, cross-calibration measurements were performed in phantoms and patients using the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) liquid standard and the Image Analysis (IA) solid standard on the UCSF GE 9800 CT scanner. From the phantom measurements, a highly linear relationship was found between the liquid- and solid-calibrated BMD values. No influence on the cross-calibration due to simulated variations in body size or vertebral fat content was seen, though a significant difference in the cross-calibration was observed between scans acquired at 80 and 140 kVp. From the patient measurements, a linear relationship between the liquid (UCSF) and solid (IA) calibrated values was derived for GE 9800 CT scanners at 80 kVp (IA=[1.15×UCSF]-7.32). The UCSF normative database for women and men obtained with the liquid standard was corrected for use with the solid standard. Proper procedures for cross-calibrating QCT measurements and the appropriate uses of normative data are discussed.