An advanced analysis of the mechanical properties of bone should include information about the microarchitecture of cancellous bone in addition to its density. It has recently been shown that high-resolution quantitative computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging have the potential to assess such information in a noninvasive way in patients. Both techniques, however, lack sufficient spatial resolution to image the individual trabeculae with true precision. In this work, a new parameter, Ridge number density (RND), is introduced. RND is a measure for the trabecular number, which can be extracted directly from high-resolution three-dimensional (3D) images of patients. We applied the RND technique to a test group of nine healthy, postmenopausal women measured repetitively with a high-resolution 3D peripheral quantitative computed tomography (3D-pQCT) system with 165 × 165 × 165 μm³ voxel size. Simultaneously with the RND determination, the trabecular bone density (TBD) was also assessed in the same volume of interest. The examination site was the distal radius. The intersubject variability of the measured test group was 10.5% for RND and 26.3% for TBD. The root mean square error between first and second examinations (midterm reproducibility) was 1.6% and 1.1%, respectively. RND is determined independently from TBD and pertains to the structure of the cancellous bone. As such, it might add crucial information in cases where bone mass or bone density measurements alone give ambigous results.
Keywords: Computed tomography (CT); Bone microarchitecture; Trabecular bone structure; Quantitative bone morphology