Introduction: High-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography (HR-pQCT), which enables in vivo analysis of bone morphometry, is widely used in osteoporosis research. The scan position is usually determined by the fixed offset method; however, there are concerns that the scan position can become relatively proximal if limb length is short. The present study compared bone mineral density and morphometry measured using the fixed and relative offset methods, in which the scan position is determined based on the lengths of the forearm and lower leg, and investigated factors responsible for measurement differences between the two methods.
Methods: A total of 150 healthy Japanese subjects, comprising 75 men and 75 women, with a mean age of 45.1 years, were enrolled in this study. The distal radius and tibia were scanned using the fixed and relative offset methods; the fixed offset method involved scanning the radius and tibia at 9 mm and 22 mm, respectively, proximal to their distal articular surfaces. By contrast, the relative offset method entailed scanning the radius at 4% of the forearm length and the tibia at 7.3% of the lower leg length, proximal to their respective distal articular surfaces. The percent overlap between the scan positions of the two methods was measured using the scout views. Measurement values obtained with the two methods were compared. The correlation between the differences in the values among the two methods and forearm length, lower leg length, and body height was examined.
Results: The subjects had a mean height of 164.3 ± 14.3 cm, mean forearm length of 252.9 ± 17.3 mm, and mean lower leg length of 346.7 ± 22.3 mm. The mean percent overlap was 85.0 ± 9.1% (59.2–99.6%) for the radius and 79.8 ± 12.5% (48.3–99.8%) for the tibia. Fixed offset scanning yielded higher total volumetric bone mineral density (Tt.vBMD) and cortical vBMD (Ct.vBMD) and greater cortical thickness (Ct.Th) (all p < 0.001). The differences between the two methods in terms of Tt.vBMD, Ct.vBMD and Ct.Th were significantly greater with shorter forearm length, lower leg length, and body height (radius: 0.51 < |r| < 0.63, tibia: 0.61 < |r| < 0.95).
Conclusion: Measurements of bone mineral density and morphometry obtained using the fixed offset method differed from those obtained using the relative offset method, which takes body size into account. Shorter body height, forearm length, and lower leg length were found to correlate with greater measurement differences. In populations with smaller stature, use of the fixed offset method results in relatively proximal images; thus, caution should be exercised when comparing groups of different height.
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