, Volume 8, Issue 6, pp 618-626

Fractal Analysis of Trabecular Bone Texture on Radiographs: Discriminant Value in Postmenopausal Osteoporosis

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Trabecular bone microarchitecture cannot be routinely evaluated. We have developed and validated a fractal analysis of trabecular bone texture on calcaneus radiographs. The aim of this work was to evaluate the ability of the fractal analysis to discriminate a group of 39 postmenopausal women with osteoporotic (OP) vertebral crush fractures (68.0 + 10.8 years) from an age-matched control group of 39 women (68.0 + 10.7 years). The value of the fractal analysis was compared with the value of the femoral neck bone mineral density (FNBMD) and trochanteric bone mineral density (TRBMD). The result is expressed by the parameter Hme an (Hme an= 2 7 fractal dimension). Hme an value was 0.691 + 0.050 in the OP group versus 0.739 + 0.024 in the controls, while FNBMD was 0.598 + 0.113 g/cm2 versus 0.645 + 0.109 g/cm2 and TRBMD was 0.512 + 0.108 g/cm2 versus 0.594 + 0.106 g/cm2 respectively. The statistical significance of the Hme an test (p50.0001) was higher than for FNBMD (p50.05) and for TRBMD (p= 0.0004). We used a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve to check this superiority. The area under the ROC curve was 0.824 for Hme an, 0.633 for FNBMD and 0.727 for TRBMD. This superiority of the Hme an ROC curve was statistically significant versus FNBMD, but not versus TRBMD. In a second analysis, we studied the subgroups of OP patients and controls with overlapping FNBMD or TRBMD values to check whether the fractal dimension test could be discriminant in these subgroups. Significant statistical differences were found for Hme an between OP patients and controls in the overlapping subgroup for FNBMD or TRBMD (respectively p= 0.006 and p50.02). These data confirm that the fractal analysis of texture on calcaneus radiographs is able to discriminate OP patients with vertebral crush fracture from controls. This discrimination was stronger than that obtained by FNBMD or TRBMD alone. It was also present when we compared subgroups with overlapping values of FNBMD or TRBMD.

Received: 9 Sepember 1997 / Revised: 6 April 1998