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Abstract

High resolution magnetic resonance (MR) images of the distal radius were obtained at 1.5 Tesla in premenopausal normal, postmenopausal normal, and postmenopausal osteoporotic women. The image resolution was 156 μm in plane and 700 μm in the slice direction; the total imaging time was ∼16 minutes. An intensity-based thresholding technique was used to segment the images into trabecular bone and marrow, respectively. Extensions of standard stereological techniques were used to derive measures of trabecular bone structure from these segmented images. The parameters calculated included apparent measures of trabecular bone volume fraction, trabecular thickness, trabecular spacing, and trabecular number. Fractal-based texture parameters, such as the box-counting dimension, were also derived. Trabecular bone mineral density (BMD) and cortical bone mineral content (BMC) were measured in the distal radius using peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT). In a subset of patients, spinal trabecular BMD was measured using quantitative computed tomography (QCT). Correlations between the indices of trabecular bone structure measured from these high-resolution MR images, age, BMD, and osteoporotic fracture status were examined. Cortical BMC and trabecular BMD at the distal radius, spinal BMD, trabecular bone volume fraction, trabecular thickness, trabecular number, and fractal dimension all decreased with age. Trabecular spacing showed the greatest percentage change and increased with age. In addition, significant differences were evident in spinal BMD, radial trabecular BMD, trabecular bone volume fraction, trabecular spacing, and trabecular number between the postmenopausal nonfracture and the postmenopausal osteoporotic subjects. Trabecular spacing and trabecular number showed moderate correlation with radial trabecular BMD but correlated poorly with radial cortical BMC. High resolution MR imaging, a potentially useful tool for quantifying trabecular structure in vivo, may have applications for understanding and evaluating skeletal changes related to age and osteoporosis.