Influence of soft tissue on bone density and microarchitecture measurements by high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography

Citation:

Signe Caksa, Amy Yuan, Sara E Rudolph, Elaine W Yu, Kristin L Popp, and Mary L Bouxsein. 2019. “Influence of soft tissue on bone density and microarchitecture measurements by high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography.” Bone, 124, Pp. 47-52. Copy at https://tinyurl.com/y975xav8

Abstract:

High-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography (HR-pQCT) is a non-invasive method of measuring volumetric bone mineral density (vBMD) and microarchitecture at the distal radius and tibia. With increasing use of this technology, it is crucial to understand the potential impact of overlying soft tissue on the accuracy of HR-pQCT measures. Thus, we examined the effects of a simulated increase in adiposity (via 6- and 12-mm thick layers of overlying circumferential fat) on HR-pQCT measures of a hydroxyapatite (HA) phantom and in women (n = 20, aged 18-75 years). In the phantom, increasing the amount of overlying fat tissue led to a corresponding decrease in the mean measured density for each HA rod. In women, fat-layering led to a decrease in total vBMD (-2.9 to -3.7%, p < 0.001), cortical vBMD (-1.4% to -5.5%, p < 0.001), and estimated failure load (-1.4 to -5.7%, p = 0.002) at the radius, with similar changes in the tibia. Trabecular microarchitectural measurements were also impacted by simulated adiposity, with fat-layering leading to decreased trabecular thickness and separation and increased trabecular number at the radius (Δ's = 5 to 12%) with more pronounced differences at the tibia (Δ's = 14 to 40%). At the tibia, fat-layering also led to decreased cortical thickness and increased cortical porosity. Altogether, these results demonstrate that overlying adipose tissue can lead to artifacts in bone measurements by HR-pQCT, resulting in an underestimation of vBMD and generally, an overestimation of bone microarchitecture impairment. Therefore, soft tissue artifact should be considered when interpreting HR-pQCT results, particularly in those with high BMI and/or marked changes in adiposity.