The Effect of Quantitative Computed Tomography Acquisition Protocols on Bone Mineral Density Estimation

Hugo Giambini, Dan Dragomir-Daescu, Paul M. Huddleston, Jon J. Camp, Kai Nan An, Ahmad Nassr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Osteoporosis is characterized by bony material loss and decreased bone strength leading to a significant increase in fracture risk. Patient-specific quantitative computed tomography (QCT) finite element (FE) models may be used to predict fracture under physiological loading. Material properties for the FE models used to predict fracture are obtained by converting grayscale values from the CT into volumetric bone mineral density (vBMD) using calibration phantoms. If there are any variations arising from the CT acquisition protocol, vBMD estimation and material property assignment could be affected, thus, affecting fracture risk prediction. We hypothesized that material property assignments may be dependent on scanning and postprocessing settings including voltage, current, and reconstruction kernel, thus potentially having an effect in fracture risk prediction. A rabbit femur and a standard calibration phantom were imaged by QCT using different protocols. Cortical and cancellous regions were segmented, their average Hounsfield unit (HU) values obtained and converted to vBMD. Estimated vBMD for the cortical and cancellous regions were affected by voltage and kernel but not by current. Our study demonstrated that there exists a significant variation in the estimated vBMD values obtained with different scanning acquisitions. In addition, the large noise differences observed utilizing different scanning parameters could have an important negative effect on small subregions containing fewer voxels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number114502
JournalJournal of Biomechanical Engineering
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015


  • CT scanner variability
  • bone imaging
  • bone material properties
  • bone segmentation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Physiology (medical)


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