Up to now it has not been possible to reliably cross-calibrate dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) densitometry equipment made by different manufacturers so that a measurement made on an individual subject can be expressed in the units used with a different type of machine. Manufacturers have adopted various procedures for edge detection and calibration, producing various normal ranges which are specific to each individual manufacturer's brand of machine. In this study we have used the recently described European Spine Phantom (ESP, prototype version), which contains three semi-anthropomorphic "vertebrae" of different densities made of simulated cortical and trabecular bone, to calibrate a range of DXA densitometers and quantitative computed tomography (QCT) equipment used in the measurement of trabecular bone density of the lumbar vertebrae. Three brands of QCT equipment and three brands of DXA equipment were assessed. Repeat measurements were made to assess machine stability. With the large majority of machines which proved stable, mean values were obtained for the measured low, medium and high density vertebrae respectively. In the case of the QCT equipment these means were for the trabecular bone density, and in the case of the DXA equipment for vertebral body bone density in the posteroanterior projection. All DXA machines overestimated the projected area of the vertebral bodies by incorporating variable amounts of transverse process. In general, the QCT equipment gave measured values which were close to the specified values for trabecular density, but there were substantial differences from the specified values in the results provided by the three DXA brands. For the QCT and Norland DXA machines (posteroanterior view), the relationships between specified densities and observed densities were found to be linear, whereas for the other DXA equipment (posteroanterior view), slightly curvilinear, exponential fits were found to be necessary to fit the plots of observed versus specified densities. From these plots, individual calibration equations were derived for each machine studied. For optimal cross-calibration, it was found to be necessary to use an individual calibration equation for each machine. This study has shown that it is possible to cross-calibrate DXA as well as QCT equipment for the measurement of axial bone density. This will be of considerable benefit for large-scale epidemiological studies as well as for multi-site clinical studies depending on bone densitometry.

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doi.org/10.1007/BF02106097, hdl.handle.net/1765/72411
Osteoporosis International: with other metabolic bone diseases
Department of Internal Medicine

Pearson, J., Dequeker, J., Henley, M., Bright, J., Reeve, J., Kalender, W., … Wittenberg, G. (1995). European semi-anthropomorphic spine phantom for the calibration of bone densitometers: Assessment of precision, stability and accuracy the European quantitation of osteoporosis study group. Osteoporosis International: with other metabolic bone diseases, 5(3), 174–184. doi:10.1007/BF02106097