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Bone Density Test Uses Existing CT Images to Predict Fractures

By MedImaging International staff writers
Posted on 16 May 2024

Osteoporotic fractures are not only devastating and deadly, especially hip fractures, but also impose significant costs. They rank among the top chronic diseases in terms of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), following ischemic heart disease, dementia, and lung cancer. Osteoporosis is primarily responsible for fractures in post-menopausal women and older men, and its prevalence and severity are often underestimated. Known as a "silent disease" because it typically doesn't show symptoms, osteoporosis can only be effectively detected and treated through screening with a bone density test before a fracture occurs. However, very few people who should be screened actually undergo such screening. A new study has now demonstrated that a bone density test, considered the gold standard for diagnosing osteoporosis, can predict fractures using an individual’s existing CT scans.

This technology-enabled bone density test by Bone Density Inc. (BDI, Torrance, CA, USA) could dramatically enhance public health outcomes and reduce healthcare costs given the high prevalence, severity, and treatability of osteoporosis. BDI’s method utilizes what is sometimes called "opportunistic" screening by employing a patient's existing CT scans, eliminating the need for new imaging as required by traditional DXA imaging methods. This approach requires no additional radiation exposure, cost, equipment, or staffing, making it seamless, safe, cost-effective, quick, and accurate, as evidenced by its ability to predict fractures in this study.

Image: Preventing fractures through bone health (Photo courtesy of BDI)
Image: Preventing fractures through bone health (Photo courtesy of BDI)

This research is the first to establish the predictive value of vertebral trabecular bone mineral density (vBMD) derived from CT scans for fractures. It is also among the few studies to examine the link between vBMD and osteoporosis-related hip and vertebral fractures across a multiethnic population. The findings indicate that vBMD, as determined by BDI from routine CT images, can effectively predict hip and vertebral fractures. Patients with low vBMD were found to have a 1.57-fold higher risk of experiencing their first hip fracture and nearly three times the risk of their first vertebral fracture compared to those with normal BMD levels.

“With treatment and now screening so easy, awareness is the main hurdle to turn the tide against osteoporosis,” said BDI CEO Jonathan Taub. “Healthcare providers and payers should remind their patients and members to get screened for osteoporosis per medical guidelines. Patients should ask their doctors about screening options. Community leaders and other influencers can help raise awareness as well. With our aging population and other trends, our already acute osteoporosis/fracture problem will get even worse without action. Together, we can turn the tide against the osteoporosis scourge.”

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