Anteroposterior versus lateral bone mineral density of spine assessed by dual X-ray absorptiometry
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Recently, it has been suggested that lateral (LAT) spine bone mass measurements by absorptiometry may be more sensitive for detecting bone loss than the standard anteroposterior (AP) projection. The aim of this study was to evaluate the precision of LAT spine dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) and its diagnostic sensitivity. A group of 1554 subjects with no risk factors that might affect bone metabolism and 185 osteoporotic patients with vertebral fractures were studied. Bone mineral density (BMD) was measured in the lumbar spine (standard AP and LAT projections) and proximal femur with a DEXA absorptiometer. The precision of the measurements was assessed in 15 volunteers. Diagnostic sensitivity was evaluated by the Z-score method. Comparing young people and the elderly, spine bone loss in the latter was similar for AP and LAT projections, when it was evaluated in absolute values (glcm2). However, when it was evaluated in percentage terms, bone loss was about twice as high in the LAT projection. LAT spine BMD correlated significantly with all the other areas assessed. The best correlation was found with the standard AP projection (r=0.67,P<0.0001). The precision in the LAT projection was found to be within an acceptable range (1.6% in normal subjects, 2% in osteoporotic patients), even though it was about twice that obtained in the AP projection. Diagnostic sensitivity was also better with the AP projection. It is concluded that LAT spine BMD measurements can be assessed with acceptable precision although it is about twice as high as for AP spine measurements. The percentage decrease in BMD in the elderly is greater for measurements made in the LAT projection than for measurements made in the AP projection. However, there is no enhancement of diagnostic sensitivity in osteoporosis. BMD measurements in the LAT projection are not as good as in the AP projection but they may offer complementary information of the regional evolution of spine bone mass.
Key wordsBone mineral density Dual X-ray absorptiometry Lateral projection Lumbar spine
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