Osteoporosis International

, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 34–38 | Cite as

Radiographic absorptiometry: A simple method for determination of bone mass

  • F. Cosman
  • B. Herrington
  • S. Himmelstein
  • R. Lindsay
Original Article


Bone mass measurements have been shown to be useful determinants of the risk of development of osteoporotic fractures and may help identify individuals who are most likely to benefit from both primary and secondary prevention of osteoporosis. As standard bone density measurements are not available to all physicians, there is a need for a fast, inexpensive, and widely available technique to measure bone mass. Radiographic absorptiometry of the phalanges requires only routine radiography with processing of the films done at a special off-site laboratory. We performed a preliminary investigation to see whether this simple technique could be used to predict a low bone mass as defined by dual- and single-photon absorptiometry. Correlations between radiographic absorptiometry and the standard techniques were as good as those among the standard techniques themselves (r=0.58−0.9). Radiographic absorptiometry measurements predicted low bone mass of the lumbar spine and femoral neck with 90% and 82% sensitivity respectively. If further evaluation supports these initial conclusions, radiographic absorptiometry may be useful as a screening technique for primary care physicians and in research settings where dual-photon or dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry are impossible.


Bone mineral density Radiographic absorptiometry 


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Copyright information

© European Foundation for Osteoporosis 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. Cosman
    • 1
  • B. Herrington
    • 2
  • S. Himmelstein
    • 2
  • R. Lindsay
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of MedicineColumbia UniversityNew York
  2. 2.Regional Bone CenterHelen Hayes HospitalWest HaverstrawUSA

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