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Keywords:

  • osteoporosis;
  • vertebral fracture;
  • radiology;
  • bone densitometry;
  • menopause

Abstract

Using ABQ diagnosis, the sensitivity to detect VF of densitometric versus radiographic assessment in 755 postmenopausal women was 71-81% and specificity was 97%. Misdiagnosis was influenced by image quality and was more common for mild deformities.

Introduction: Using densitometric vertebral fracture assessment (VFA), prevalent fractures are identified when vertebral height appears reduced by ≥20%. However, this approach does not discriminate between osteoporotic vertebral fracture (VF) and nonosteoporotic deformity, which increases the false-positive rate. Algorithm-based qualitative diagnosis (ABQ) focuses on vertebral endplate fracture to exclude these deformities but has not been applied in VFA. We wished to determine whether densitometric image quality is adequate for ABQ assessment. Our aims were to (1) calculate agreement between VFA and radiography using ABQ to identify prevalent VF and (2) identify the primary reasons for any discordant diagnosis.

Methods: Radiographic and densitometric spine images for postmenopausal women at low risk (LR; n = 459) and high risk (HR; n = 298) of VF were assessed using ABQ. Agreement between imaging modalities for VF diagnosis was assessed by κ statistics using ABQ radiographic readings as the gold standard.

Results: The prevalence of VF was 11-29% (radiography) and 9-26% (VFA) in the LR and HR groups, respectively. Agreement between imaging modalities was good or very good (κ = 0.62-0.81 in the LR and HR populations). The sensitivity to detect women with VF by VFA was 71% and 84% in the LR and HR populations, respectively, and specificity was 97%. Fifty-two (77%) and 60 (61%) of vertebrae misclassified by VFA in the LR and HR populations were mild fractures and 37 (54%) and 62 (63%) were wedge fractures. One third of fractures missed by VFA were related to poor or unreadable image quality (n = 27 and 28 vertebrae in the LR and HR populations, respectively).

Conclusions: There was good agreement between VFA and radiography using ABQ to identify prevalent VF in women at LR or HR of osteoporotic VF. Vertebrae misclassified by VFA were primarily mild fractures or deformities, and two thirds of all fractures missed by VFA were related to poor or unreadable image quality.