Quantitative imaging methods in osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is characterized by a decreased bone mass and quality resulting in an increased fracture risk. Quantitative imaging methods are critical in the diagnosis and follow-up of treatment effects in osteoporosis. Prior radiographic vertebral fractures and bone mineral density (BMD) as a quantitative parameter derived from dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) are among the strongest known predictors of future osteoporotic fractures. Therefore, current clinical decision making relies heavily on accurate assessment of these imaging features. Further, novel quantitative techniques are being developed to appraise additional characteristics of osteoporosis including three-dimensional bone architecture with quantitative computed tomography (QCT). Dedicated high-resolution (HR) CT equipment is available to enhance image quality. At the other end of the spectrum, by utilizing post-processing techniques such as the trabecular bone score (TBS) information on three-dimensional architecture can be derived from DXA images. Further developments in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) seem promising to not only capture bone micro-architecture but also characterize processes at the molecular level. This review provides an overview of various quantitative imaging techniques based on different radiological modalities utilized in clinical osteoporosis care and research.