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Radiol Clin North Am. 2010 May;48(3):561-75. doi: 10.1016/j.rcl.2010.02.018.

Vertebral morphometry.

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Department of Radiology, University Sapienza, Policlinico Umberto I, Viale Regina Elena 324, Rome, Italy.


Visual semiquantitative (SQ) assessment of the radiographs by a trained and experienced observer is the "gold standard" method to detect vertebral fractures. Vertebral morphometry is a quantitative method to identify osteoporotic vertebral fractures based on the measurement of vertebral heights. Vertebral morphometry may be performed on conventional spinal radiographs (MRX: morphometric x-ray radiography) or on images obtained from dual x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans (MXA: morphometric x-ray absorptiometry). Vertebral fracture assessment (VFA) indicates the method for identification of the vertebral fractures using lateral spine views acquired by DXA, with low-dose exposition. For epidemiologic studies and clinical drug trials in osteoporosis research but also in clinical practice, the preferred method is radiographic SQ assessment., because an expert eye can better distinguish between true fractures and vertebral anomalies than can quantitative morphometry. However, vertebral morphometry, calculating the deformity of overall thoracic and lumbar spine, may supply useful data about the vertebral fracture risk. VFA performed during routine densitometry allows identification, by visual or morphometric methods, of most osteoporotic vertebral fractures, even those that are asymptomatic.

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