Analysis of trabecular bone structure with multidetector spiral computed tomography in a simulated soft-tissue environment.
We investigated the influence of soft tissue (ST) on image quality by high-resolution multidetector computed tomography (MDCT) scans and assessed the effect of surrounding ST on the quantification of trabecular bone structure. Eight bone cores obtained from human proximal femoral heads discarded during hip replacement surgery were scanned with micro-computed tomography (microCT) as well as with MDCT both without (w/o) and with (w) simulated surrounding ST, where a phantom imitated a human torso. Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR) were measured in all scans. Apparent trabecular bone structure parameters were calculated and compared to similar parameters obtained in coregistered sections of the microCT scans. Residual errors were calculated as root-mean-square (RMS) errors relative to the microCT measurements. Compared to microCT results, trabecular structure parameters were overestimated by MDCT both w and w/o ST. SNR and CNR were significantly higher in the scans w/o ST. Significant correlations between microCT and MDCT results were found for bone fraction (r = 0.90 w/o ST, r = 0.84 w ST), trabecular number, and separation. RMS ranged from 10% to 15% for MDCT w/o ST and from 10% to 17% for MDCT w ST. Only bone fraction showed significantly different RMS and correlations for scans w/o vs. w ST (P< 0.05). This study showed that MDCT is able to visualize trabecular bone structure in an in vivo-like setting at skeletal sites within the torso such as the proximal femur. Even though ST scatter compromises image quality substantially, the major characteristics of the trabecular network can still be appreciated and quantified.