Objectives: Quantitative computed tomography (QCT)–based finite element analysis (FEA) implements a calibration phantom to estimate bone mineral density (BMD) and assign material properties to the models. The objectives of this study were to (1) propose robust phantom-less calibration methods, using subject-specific tissues, to obtain vertebral fracture properties estimations using QCT/FEA; and (2) correlate QCT/FEA predictions to DXA values of areal BMD. Methods: Eighty of a cohort of 111 clinical QCT scans were used to obtain subject-specific parameters using a phantom calibration approach and for the development of the phantom-less calibration equations. Equations were developed based on the HU measured from various soft tissues and regions, and using multiple linear regression analyses. Thirty-one additional QCT scans were used for cross-validation of QCT/FEA estimated fracture loads from the L3 vertebrae based on the phantom and phantom-less equations. Finally, QCT/FEA-predicted fracture loads were correlated with aBMD obtained from DXA. Results: Overall, 217 QCT/FEA models from 31 subjects (20 females, 11 men) with mean ages of 69.6 (13.1) and 67.3 (14) were used to cross-validate the phantom-less equations and assess bone strength. The proposed phantom-less equations showed high correlations with phantom-based estimates of BMD (99%). Cross-validation of QCT/FEA-predicted fracture loads from phantom-less equations and phantom-specific outcomes resulted in high correlations for all proposed methods (0.94–0.99). QCT/FEA correlation outcomes from the phantom-less equations and DXA-aBMD were moderately high (0.64–0.68). Conclusions: The proposed QCT/FEA subject-specific phantom-less calibration methods demonstrated the potential to be applied to both prospective and retrospective applications in the clinical setting. Key Points: • QCT/FEA overcomes the disadvantages of DXA and improves fracture properties predictions of vertebrae. • QCT/FEA fracture estimates using the phantom-less approach highly correlated to values obtained using a calibration phantom. • QCT/FEA prediction using a phantom-less approach is an accurate alternative over phantom-based methods.
- Bone density
- Finite element analysis
- Quantitative computed tomography
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging