Opportunistic Screening of Low Bone Mineral Density From Standard X-Rays Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Osteoporosis, characterized by loss of bone mineral density (BMD), is underscreened. Osteoporosis and low bone mass are diagnosed by a BMD T-score ≤ -2.5, and between -1.0 and -2.5, respectively, at the femoral neck or lumbar vertebrae (L1-4), using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). The ability to estimate BMD at those anatomic sites from standard radiographs would enable opportunistic screening of low BMD (T-score < -1) in individuals undergoing x-ray for any clinical indication. METHODS: Radiographs of the lumbar spine, thoracic spine, chest, pelvis, hand, and knee, with a paired DXA acquired within 1 year, were obtained from community imaging centers (62,023 x-ray-DXA pairs of patients). A software program called Rho was developed that uses x-ray, age, and sex as inputs, and outputs a score of 1 to 10 that corresponds with the likelihood of low BMD. The program's performance was assessed using receiver-operating characteristic analyses in three independent test sets, as follows: patients from community imaging centers (n = 3,729; 83% female); patients in the Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study (n = 1,780; 71% female); and patients in the Osteoarthritis Initiative (n = 591; 50% female). RESULTS: The areas under the receiver-operating characteristic curves were 0.89 (0.87-0.90), 0.87 (0.85-0.88), and 0.82 (0.79-0.85), respectively, and subset analyses showed similar results for each sex, body part, and race. CONCLUSION: Rho can opportunistically screen patients at risk of low BMD (at femoral neck or L1-4) from radiographs of the lumbar spine, thoracic spine, chest, pelvis, hand, or knee.


  • Bilbily, Alexander
  • Syme, Catriona A
  • Adachi, Jonathan Derrick
  • Berger, Claudie
  • Morin, Suzanne N
  • Goltzman, David
  • Cicero, Mark D

publication date

  • April 2024