A comparison of peripheral imaging technologies for bone and muscle quantification: a technical review of image acquisition.
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The choice of an appropriate imaging technique to quantify bone, muscle, or muscle adiposity needs to be guided by a thorough understanding of its competitive advantages over other modalities balanced by its limitations. This review details the technical machinery and methods behind peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT), high-resolution (HR)-pQCT, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that drive successful depiction of bone and muscle morphometry, densitometry, and structure. It discusses a number of image acquisition settings, the challenges associated with using one versus another, and compares the risk-benefits across the different modalities. Issues related to all modalities including partial volume artifact, beam hardening, calibration, and motion assessment are also detailed. The review further provides data and images to illustrate differences between methods to better guide the reader in selecting an imaging method strategically. Overall, investigators should be cautious of the impact of imaging parameters on image signal or contrast-to-noise-ratios, and the need to report these settings in future publications. The effect of motion should be assessed on images and a decision made to exclude prior to segmentation. A more standardized approach to imaging bone and muscle on pQCT and MRI could enhance comparability across studies and could improve the quality of meta-analyses.
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