Quantitative imaging techniques for the assessment of osteoporosis and sarcopenia

Sara Guerri, Daniele Mercatelli, Maria Pilar Aparisi Gómez, Alessandro Napoli, Giuseppe Battista, Giuseppe Guglielmi, Alberto Bazzocchi


Bone and muscle are two deeply interconnected organs and a strong relationship between them exists in their development and maintenance. The peak of both bone and muscle mass is achieved in early adulthood, followed by a progressive decline after the age of 40. The increase in life expectancy in developed countries resulted in an increase of degenerative diseases affecting the musculoskeletal system. Osteoporosis and sarcopenia represent a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the elderly population and are associated with a significant increase in healthcare costs. Several imaging techniques are currently available for the non-invasive investigation of bone and muscle mass and quality. Conventional radiology, dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound often play a complementary role in the study of osteoporosis and sarcopenia, depicting different aspects of the same pathology. This paper presents the different imaging modalities currently used for the investigation of bone and muscle mass and quality in osteoporosis and sarcopenia with special emphasis on the clinical applications and limitations of each technique and with the intent to provide interesting insights into recent advances in the field of conventional imaging, novel high-resolution techniques and fracture risk.