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Navel jewelry artifacts and intravertebral variation in spine bone densitometry in adolescents and young women.

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Non-removable navel jewelry can increase the measured bone density of the underlying vertebra. We measured lumbar spine bone mineral density (BMD) by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) in an observational study of 727 adolescents and young women aged 14-30 yr. We evaluated several methods of correcting BMD: manually erasing a small area, eliminating 1 or 2 vertebrae, estimating the BMD from 1 or 2 vertebrae using data from remaining vertebrae, and estimating the BMD using T-scores of the remaining vertebrae. Ten percent (n=71) of the subjects were wearing navel jewelry. The areal BMD by DXA of L1 and L2 was similar in those with jewels as in controls without jewels, but L3-L4 showed higher bone density in those with jewelry, and the spine BMD of L1-L4 was significantly higher in the bejeweled women (1.043+/-0.011 vs 1.006+/-0.004 g/cm2, p=0.01). The estimated errors in accuracy (g/cm2) were 0.034 due to the jewels; 0.005 from erasing a small area; 0.019 from eliminating L4; 0.044 from eliminating both L3 and L4; 0.016 from predicting BMD using L1-L3; and 0.028 using L1-L2. The T-scores using the Hologic database were progressively lower in the caudal vertebrae, even in 96 local women aged 30-35 yr, whose average T-score was 0.35 at L1 but -0.26 at L4. Thus, we found significant errors due to intravertebral variability. We suggest the optimal method of correcting for small artifacts is to erase the area under the artifact.

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