Osteoporosis International

, 17:1283

Quality and performance measures in bone densitometry

Part 1: Errors and diagnosis

DOI: 10.1007/s00198-005-0039-0

Cite this article as:
Engelke, K. & Glüer, CC. Osteoporos Int (2006) 17: 1283. doi:10.1007/s00198-005-0039-0



Bone densitometry is one of the main pillars in the assessment of osteoporosis. The most important modalities are dual x-ray absorptiometry (DXA), quantitative computed tomography (QCT), and quantitative ultrasound (QUS).

Materials and methods

For each modality a variety of technical solutions and numerous commercial devices are available and widely used for patient measurements. While the field of bone densitometry may be considered mature, new modalities and devices are being introduced. Consequently, there is a constant need to assess and compare the quality of bone densitometry approaches and devices in a rigorous way.


The International Commission on Radiation Units has commissioned a report on bone densitometry to address some of these issues, in particular to provide clear definitions of quantities and units used and to describe parameters and methods that can be used to compare and standardize densitometric equipment and measurements. One of the core chapters of the report summarizes quality and performance measures in bone densitometry. It is divided into four sections: physical performance measures, diagnosis, fracture risk, and monitoring. Here we publish part 1 of this chapter containing the first two sections: physical performance measures and issues in diagnosing osteoporosis.


Following the international standard (ISO 5725-1), trueness, bias, repeatability, and reproducibility are defined along with terms common to osteoporosis research, such as accuracy and precision. Building on the conceptual definition of osteoporosis, diagnostic criteria are defined and discussed including criteria for reference data. Based on this, clinical performance measures commonly used for the diagnosis of osteoporosis are reviewed and discussed.


Bone densitometryDiagnosisErrorsPerformanceQualityReference data

Copyright information

© International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Medical PhysicsUniversity of ErlangenErlangenGermany
  2. 2.Medizinische Physik, Klinik für Diagnostische RadiologieUniversitätsklinikum Schleswig-Holstein, Campus KielKielGermany