• high-resolution pQCT;
  • MRI;
  • bone structure;
  • image analysis;
  • osteoporosis


Bone structural measures obtained by two noninvasive imaging tools—3T MRI and HR-pQCT—were compared. Significant but moderate correlations and 2- to 4-fold discrepancies in parameter values were detected, suggesting that differences in acquisition and analysis must be considered when interpreting data from these imaging modalities.

Introduction: High-field MRI and high resolution (HR)-pQCT are currently being used in longitudinal bone structure studies. Substantial differences in acquisition and analysis between these modalities may influence the quantitative data produced and could potentially influence clinical decisions based on their results. Our goal was to compare trabecular and cortical bone structural measures obtained in vivo by 3T MRI and HR-pQCT.

Materials and Methods: Postmenopausal osteopenic women (n = 52) were recruited for this study. HR-pQCT imaging of the radius and tibia was performed using the XtremeCT scanner, with a voxel size of 82 × 82 × 82 μm3. MR imaging was performed on a 3T Signa scanner using SSFP imaging sequences, with a pixel size of 156 × 156 μm2 and slice thickness of 500 μm. Structure parameters were calculated using standard HR-pQCT and MRI analysis techniques. Relationships between measures derived from HR-pQCT, MRI, and DXA were studied.

Results: Significant correlations between HR-pQCT and MRI parameters were found (p < 0.0001) and were strongest for Tb.N (r2 = 0.52), Ct.Th (r2 = 0.59), and site-specific Tb.Sp (r2 = 0.54–0.60). MRI and HR-pQCT provided statistically different values of structure parameters (p < 0.0001), with BV/TV and Tb.Th exhibiting the largest discrepancies (MR/HR-pQCT = 3–4). Although differences in the Tb.N values were statistically significant, the mean differences were on the order of our reproducibility measurements. Systematic differences between MRI and HR-pQCT analysis procedures leading to discrepancies in cortical thickness values were observed, with MRI values consistently higher. Minimal correlations were found between MRI or HR-pQCT parameters and DXA BMD or T-score, except between HR-pQCT measures at the radius and the ultradistal radius T-scores, where moderate correlations were found (r2 = 0.19–0.58).

Conclusions: This study provides unique insight into two emerging noninvasive tools for bone structure evaluation. Our findings highlight the significant influence of analysis technique on results of in vivo assessment and underscore the importance of accounting for these differences when interpreting results from these modalities.