Hand X-ray absorptiometry for measurement of bone mineral density on a slot-scanning X-ray imaging system

Doctoral Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Bone mineral density (BMD) is an indicator of bone strength. While femoral and spinal BMDs are traditionally used in the management of osteoporosis, BMD at peripheral sites such as the hand has been shown to be useful in evaluating fracture risk for axial sites. These peripheral locations have been suggested as alternatives to the traditional sites for BMD measurement. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) is the gold standard for measuring BMD due to low radiation dose, high accuracy and proven ability to evaluate fracture risk. Computed digital absorptiometry (CDA) has also been shown to be very effective at measuring the bone mass in hand bones using an aluminium step wedge as a calibration reference. In this project, the aim was to develop algorithm s for accurate measurement of BMD in hand bones on a slot - scanning digital radiography system. The project assess e d the feasibility of measuring bone mineral mass in hand bones using CDA on the current system. Images for CDA - based measurement were acquired using the default settings on the system for a medium sized patient. A method for automatic processing of the hand images to detect the aluminium step wedge, included in the scan for calibration, was developed and the calibration accuracy of the step wedge was evaluated. The CDA method was used for computation of bone mass with units of equivalent aluminium thickness (mmA1). The precision of the method was determined by taking three measurements in each of 1 6 volunteering subjects and computing the root - mean - square coefficient of variation (CV) of the measurements. The utility of the method was assessed by taking measurements of excised bones and assessing the correlation between the measured bone mass and ash weight obtained by incinerating the bones. The project also assessed the feasibility of implementing a DXA technique using two detectors in a slot-scanning digital radiography system to acquire dual-energy X-ray images for measuring areal and volumetric BMD of the middle phalanx of the middle finger. The dual-energy images were captured in two consecutive scans. The first scan captured the low- energy image using the detector in its normal set-up. The second scan captured the high- energy image with the detector modified to include an additional scintillator to simulate the presence of a second detector that would capture the low-energy image in a two-detector system. Scan parameters for acquisition of the dual-energy images were chosen to optimise spectral separation, entrance dose and image quality. Simulations were carried out to evaluate the spectral separation of the low- and high-energy spectra.

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