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Thoracic Quantitative Computed Tomography (QCT) Can Sensitively Monitor Bone Mineral Metabolism: Comparison of Thoracic QCT vs Lumbar QCT and Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry in Detection of Age-relative Change in Bone Mineral Density.


Rationale and objective

Sensitive detection of bone mineral density (BMD) change is a key issue to monitor and evaluate the individual bone health status, as well as bone metabolism and bone mineral status. The ability to use thoracic quantitative computed tomography (QCT) to detect the annual change of BMD remains unclear. We aimed to investigate the sensitivity in detecting age-related bone mineral loss using the thoracic QCT from the electrocardiographically gated heart scans in comparison to whole-body dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and standard lumbar QCT.

Materials and methods

A total of 121 asymptomatic patients' imaging data, including DXA whole body scan, cardiac CT scan, and abdomen scans were analyzed. The BMD of the thoracolumbar spine, upper, and lower extremities were measured using QCT and DXA, respectively. The age-related annual rate of bone density loss was computed and compared to the thoracic and lumbar QCT, as well DXA measures.


The age-related annual rate of bone loss with QCT was -0.70 mg/mL3 (-0.75%/y) in women, -0.83 mg/mL3 (-0.86%/y) in men in the thoracic and the lumbar trabecular QCT, respectively. Compared to the QCT, DXA demonstrates a lower annual rate of bone loss in the area of BMD measurement (P < .05 in all, excluding legs of women) in -0.45, -0.42, -0.67, and -0.46 in women, in -0.32, -0.02, -0.12, and -0.08 in men for thoracic, lumbar, leg, and arm, respectively.


We conclude that the thoracic and the lumbar QCT provide a similar and more sensitive method for detecting bone mineral loss when compared to DXA.

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