Vertebral morphometry: current methods and recent advances
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Vertebral fractures are the hallmark of osteoporosis and are associated with increased morbility and mortality. Because a majority of vertebral fractures often occur in absence of specific trauma and are asymptomatic, their identification is radiographic. The two most widely used methods to determine the severity of vertebral fractures are the visual semiquantitative (SQ) assessment and the morphometric quantitative approach, involving the measurements of vertebral body heights. The measurements may be made on conventional spinal radiographs (MRX: morphometric X-ray radiography) or on images obtained from dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans (MXA: morphometric X-ray absorptiometry).The availability of a rapid, low-dose method for assessment of vertebral fractures, using advanced fan-beam DXA devices, provides a practical method for integrated assessment of BMD and vertebral fracture status. The visual or morphometric assessment of lateral DXA spine images may have a potential role for use as a prescreening tool, excluding normal subjects prior to performing conventional radiographs.