The intravertebral distribution of bone density: correspondence to intervertebral disc health and implications for vertebral strength
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This study's goal was to determine associations among the intravertebral heterogeneity in bone density, bone strength, and intervertebral disc (IVD) health. Results indicated that predictions of vertebral strength can benefit from considering the magnitude of the density heterogeneity and the congruence between the spatial distribution of density and IVD health.
This study aims to determine associations among the intravertebral heterogeneity in bone density, bone strength, and IVD health
Regional measurements of bone density were performed throughout 30 L1 vertebral bodies using micro-computed tomography (μCT) and quantitative computed tomography (QCT). The magnitude of the intravertebral heterogeneity in density was defined as the interquartile range and quartile coefficient of variation in regional densities. The spatial distribution of density was quantified using ratios of regional densities representing different anatomical zones (e.g., anterior to posterior regional densities). Cluster analysis was used to identify groups of vertebrae with similar spatial distributions of density. Vertebral strength was measured in compression. IVD health was assessed using two scoring systems.
QCT- and μCT-based measures of the magnitude of the intravertebral heterogeneity in density were strongly correlated with each other (p < 0.005). Accounting for the interquartile range in regional densities improved predictions of vertebral strength as compared to predictions based only on mean density (R 2 = 0.59 vs. 0.43; F-test p-value = 0.018). Specifically, after adjustment for mean density, vertebral bodies with greater heterogeneity in density exhibited higher strength. No single spatial distribution of density was associated with high vertebral strength. Analyses of IVD scores suggested that the health of the adjacent IVDs may modulate the effect of a particular spatial distribution of density on vertebral strength.
Noninvasive measurements of the intravertebral distribution of bone density, in conjunction with assessments of IVD health, can aid in predictions of bone strength and in elucidating biomechanical mechanisms of vertebral fracture.
KeywordsComputed tomography Heterogeneity Intervertebral disc Strength Vertebra
Funding was provided by NSF BES 0521255 (EFM), NIH R01 AR054620 (EFM), International Osteoporosis Foundation and Servier Research Group (EFM), and BU/CIMIT Applied Healthcare Fellowship (AIH). The authors also thank Professor Paul Barbone, Dr. Kadin Tseng, Dr. Ginu Unnikrishnan, John Gallagher, Daniel Hogan, Spencer Shore, Alexander Adams, and Gabriel McDonald.
Conflicts of interest
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