Opportunistic screening for low bone density using abdominopelvic computed tomography scans

Amara Tariq, Bhavik N. Patel, William F. Sensakovic, Samuel J. Fahrenholtz, Imon Banerjee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: While low bone density is a major burden on US health system, current osteoporosis screening guidelines by the US Preventive Services Task Force are limited to women aged ≥65 and all postmenopausal women with certain risk factors. Even within recommended screening groups, actual screening rates are low (<26%) and vary across socioeconomic groups. The proposed model can opportunistically screen patients using abdominal CT studies for low bone density who may otherwise go undiagnosed. Purpose: To develop an artificial intelligence (AI) model for opportunistic screening of low bone density using both contrast and non-contrast abdominopelvic computed tomography (CT) exams, for the purpose of referral to traditional bone health management, which typically begins with dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Methods: We collected 6083 contrast-enhanced CT imaging exams paired with DXA exams within ±6 months documented between May 2015 and August 2021 in a single institution with four major healthcare practice regions. Our fusion AI pipeline receives the coronal and axial plane images of a contrast enhanced abdominopelvic CT exam and basic patient demographics (age, gender, body cross section lengths) to predict risk of low bone mass. The models were trained on lumbar spine T-scores from DXA exams and tested on multi-site imaging exams. The model was again tested in a prospective group (N = 344) contrast-enhanced and non-contrast-enhanced studies. Results: The models were evaluated on the same test set (1208 exams)—(1) Baseline model using demographic factors from electronic medical records (EMR) - 0.7 area under the curve of receiver operator characteristic (AUROC); Imaging based models: (2) axial view - 0.83 AUROC; (3) coronal view- 0.83 AUROC; (4) Fusion model—Imaging + demographic factors - 0.86 AUROC. The prospective test yielded one missed positive DXA case with a hip prosthesis among 23 positive contrast-enhanced CT exams and 0% false positive rate for non-contrast studies. Both positive cases among non-contrast enhanced CT exams were successfully detected. While only about 8% patients from prospective study received a DXA exam within 2 years, about 30% were detected with low bone mass by the fusion model, highlighting the need for opportunistic screening. Conclusions: The fusion model, which combines two planes of CT images and EMRs data, outperformed individual models and provided a high, robust diagnostic performance for opportunistic screening of low bone density using contrast and non-contrast CT exams. This model could potentially improve bone health risk assessment with no additional cost. The model's handling of metal implants is an ongoing effort.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4296-4307
Number of pages12
JournalMedical physics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2023


  • fusion model
  • fusion of CT with demographic data
  • opportunistic screening for osteoporosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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