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Eitan M. Kohan, Venu M. Nemani, Stuart Hershman, Daniel G. Kang, and Michael P. Kelly


The authors examined the correlation between lumbar spine CT Hounsfield unit (HU) measurements and bone mineral density measurements in an adult spinal deformity (ASD) population.


Patients with ASD were identified in the records of a single institution. Lumbar CT scans were reviewed, and the mean HU measurements from L1–4 were recorded. Bone mineral density (BMD) was assessed using femoral neck and lumbar spine dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). The number of patients who met criteria for osteoporosis was determined for each imaging modality.


Forty-eight patients underwent both preoperative DEXA and CT scanning. Forty-three patients were female and 5 were male. Forty-seven patients were Caucasian and one was African American. The mean age of the patients was 62.1 years. Femoral neck DEXA was more likely to identify osteopenia (n = 26) than lumbar spine DEXA (n = 8) or lumbar CT HU measurements (n = 6) (p < 0.001). There was a low-moderate correlation between lumbar spine CT and lumbar spine DEXA (r = 0.463, p < 0.001), and there was poor correlation between lumbar spine CT and femoral neck DEXA (r = 0.303, p = 0.036).


Despite the opportunistic utility of lumbar spine CT HU measurements in identifying osteoporosis in patients undergoing single-level fusion, these measurements were not useful in this cohort of ASD patients. The correlation between femoral neck DEXA and HU measurements was poor. DEXA assessment of BMD in ASD patients is essential to optimize the care of these complicated cases.