Automatic multi-parametric quantification of the proximal femur with quantitative computed tomography

Julio Carballido-Gamio, Serena Bonaretti, Isra Saeed, Roy Harnish, Robert Recker, Andrew J. Burghardt, Joyce H. Keyak, Tamara Harris, Sundeep Khosla, Thomas F. Lang


Background: Quantitative computed tomography (QCT) imaging is the basis for multiple assessments of bone quality in the proximal femur, including volumetric bone mineral density (vBMD), tissue volume, estimation of bone strength using finite element modeling (FEM), cortical bone thickness, and computational-anatomy-based morphometry assessments.
Methods: Here, we present an automatic framework to perform a multi-parametric QCT quantification of the proximal femur. In this framework, the proximal femur is cropped from the bilateral hip scans, segmented using a multi-atlas based segmentation approach, and then assigned volumes of interest through the registration of a proximal femoral template. The proximal femur is then subjected to compartmental vBMD, compartmental tissue volume, FEM bone strength, compartmental surface-based cortical bone thickness, compartmental surface-based vBMD, local surface-based cortical bone thickness, and local surface-based cortical vBMD computations. Consequently, the template registrations together with vBMD and surface-based cortical bone parametric maps enable computational anatomy studies. The accuracy of the segmentation was validated against manual segmentations of 80 scans from two clinical facilities, while the multi-parametric reproducibility was evaluated using repeat scans with repositioning from 22 subjects obtained on CT imaging systems from two manufacturers.
Results: Accuracy results yielded a mean dice similarity coefficient of 0.976±0.006, and a modified Haussdorf distance of 0.219±0.071 mm. Reproducibility of QCT-derived parameters yielded root mean square coefficients of variation (CVRMS) between 0.89-1.66% for compartmental vBMD; 0.20-1.82% for compartmental tissue volume; 3.51-3.59% for FEM bone strength; 1.89-2.69% for compartmental surface-based cortical bone thickness; and 1.08-2.19% for compartmental surface-based cortical vBMD. For local surface-based assessments, mean CVRMS were between 3.45-3.91% and 2.74-3.15% for cortical bone thickness and vBMD, respectively.
Conclusions: The automatic framework presented here enables accurate and reproducible QCT multi-parametric analyses of the proximal femur. Our subjects were elderly, with scans obtained across multiple clinical sites and manufacturers, thus documenting its value for clinical trials and other multi-site studies.