In vivo assessment of trabecular bone structure using fractal analysis of distal radius radiographs

S. Majumdar, T. M. Link, J. Millard, J. C. Lin, P. Augat, D. Newitt, Nancy E Lane, H. K. Genant

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37 Scopus citations


Our purpose in this study was (i) to measure trabecular bone structure using fractal analysis of distal radius radiographs in subjects with and without osteoporotic hip fractures, and (ii) to compare these measures with bone mineral density (BMD) as well as with measures of trabecular bone structure derived from high resolution magnetic resonance (MR) images. Distal radius radiographs were obtained using semi-industrial films (55 kVp, 400 mAs) in 30 postmenopausal patients, who had suffered osteoporotic hip fractures (74.8+/-8.2 years) in the last 24 months and 27 postmenopausal age-matched (74.6+/-6.6 yr) normal volunteers. Radiographs were digitized at 50 μm. A Fourier power spectrum-based fractal dimension (FD) characterizing the trabecular pattern was measured in a region of interest proximal to the joint line. The fractal dimension was calculated over two spatial frequency (f) ranges: FD1 was calculated over 0.5<log(f)<1.0, FD2 over the higher range 1.0<log(f)<1.5. Trabecular BMD in the radius was obtained using peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT) (Stratec GmbH, Germany). In addition BMD of the proximal femur was determined using dual x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) (QDR 2000, Hologic, MA). In a subset of patients (16 controls and 18 with hip fractures), high resolution MR imaging of the distal radius (spatial resolution of 156x156x500 μm) was used to obtain measures analogous to bone histomorphometry. There were significant differences (p <0.05) between the fracture and nonfracture groups in the total femur BMD (13%), trabecular BMD in the distal radius (4%), and the fractal dimension in the radiographs (FD2) (3%). The correlations between FD2 and the total femur BMD as well as trabecular bone BMD in the distal radius were -0.48 (p<0.006) and -0.22 (p <0.33); respectively; FD1 increased with BMD and showed lower correlations. FD2 showed good correlations with App. Tb.N (-0.71) and App. Tb. Sp (0.69) (p<0.01), moderate correlation with App BV/TV (-0.53) (p<0.05), and no significant correlation with App. Tb. Th. The correlations between structural measures and FD1 showed the inverse trend and were typically lower. The odds ratios for a hip fracture were 2.44 for total femur BMD, 1.5 for trabecular BMD (radius), and 1.5 for FD2, respectively. In summary, the fractal measures derived from radiographs of the radius show differences between subjects with and without hip fractures, the predictive power of measures in the distal radius are comparable to radial trabecular BMD but lower than that of total hip BMD. (C) 2000 American Association of Physicists in Medicine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2594-2599
Number of pages6
JournalMedical Physics
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Distal radius
  • Fractal dimension
  • Osteoporosis
  • Structure analysis
  • Trabecular bone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics


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