RSNA: CT bone mapping may predict fracture risk

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Utilizing CT, researchers have developed a new method of bone measurement capable of identifying bones at high risk for fracture and for monitoring the effectiveness of bone-strengthening drugs and techniques.

The technique, which offers particularly promising advantages for treating osteoporosis, will be presented at the annual conference of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) in Chicago, Nov. 28 to Dec. 3.

At present, risks of bone fractures are assessed by bone mineral density tests using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry and by relatively low-resolution multidetector CT, which does not permit sub-millimeter measurement.

The new method, developed by Graham Treece, PhD, and Ken Poole, MD, of the departments of engineering and medicine at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, inputs data from CT scans into a mathematical model to produce thousands of cortical bone measurements. The measurements are then used to create 3D bone thickness maps, which physicians can use to identify dangerously thin areas of bones.

The method appears promising for the treatment and management of osteoporosis because repeat imaging would allow physicians to create successive bone maps to observe bone thinning in osteoporosis patients over time, also enabling physicians to monitor the effects of drugs and other treatments on patients.

The new CT bone-mapping method would enable physicians to make accurate measurements of bone thickness at 0.3 mm, explained the researchers.