Computed Tomography of the Chest as a Screening Tool for Low Bone Mineral Density

Alan T. Vanier, Donald Colantonio, Sameer K. Saxena, Daniel Rodkey, Scott Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: Computed tomography (CT) Hounsfield units (HU) recently emerged as a promising screening tool for low bone mineral density (BMD). We hypothesized that CT HU measurements of the thoracic spine would significantly and positively correlate with dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) BMD scans of the femoral neck. Materials and methods: The study included patients with DXA scans and thoracic CT scans at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. One author, blinded to the DXA scans, measured HU from the cancellous bone in T4 vertebrae. Another author statistically compared femoral neck DXA T-scores to the CT HU measurements. Results: The study included 145 patients with CT scans and femoral neck DXAs. The osteoporotic and osteopenic groups had a significant difference in HU measurements compared to the normal group within the study (P <. 0001 and. 002, respectively). A low BMD screening value of 231 HU provided a sensitivity of 90.1% and negative predictive value of 85.7%. Conclusion: Thoracic vertebrae HU measurements correlate with a low BMD of the femoral neck as determined by DXA T-scores. A high sensitivity and negative predictive value was achieved with a screening value of 231 HU. Utilization of chest or thoracic spine CT imaging as a screening method provides a quick and available screening tool for assessing low BMD in patients with these scans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)665-669
Number of pages5
JournalMilitary Medicine
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2023
Externally publishedYes


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