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Bone. 2007 May;40(5):1217-21. Epub 2007 Jan 24.

Prediction of bone mineral density with dental radiographs.

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  • 1Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam (ACTA), Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, Louwesweg 1, 1066 EA Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


There is consensus to use the bone mineral density (BMD) for the operational definition of the degree of osteoporosis and the risk of osteoporotic fractures. Dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) is the common technique to determine BMD. Because of high costs and limited availability of DXA equipment it is worthwhile to look for alternative diagnostic techniques. As part of a larger study, the Osteodent project, we investigated if the trabecular pattern on dental radiographs can be used to predict BMD and to identify the subjects with osteoporosis and increased risk of osteoporotic fractures. In four clinical centers 671 women with an average age of 55 years were recruited. BMD values were measured by DXA equipment at the femoral neck, total hip, and spine. One panoramic and two intraoral radiographs were made. From 525 women a complete set of BMD values and radiographs was obtained. Four regions of interest on the radiographs were selected manually and then processed automatically. On all regions of interest mean and standard deviation of the gray values were measured and several features describing the shape of the binarized trabecular pattern. Multiple regression was used to predict BMD of total hip and spine by means of the radiographic measurements combined with age. It was found that age accounts for 10% of the variation in total hip BMD and 14% of the variation in spinal BMD. When all measurements on the dental radiographs are used the explained variation increases to 22% and 23%. The areas under the ROC curves are comparable to those of commonly used screening instruments for osteoporosis. It is concluded that prediction of DXA measurements of BMD by means of quantitative analysis of the trabecular pattern on dental radiographs is feasible.

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