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Med Phys. 2010 Sep;37(9):4930-7.

Assessment of 2D and 3D fractal dimension measurements of trabecular bone from high-spatial resolution magnetic resonance images at 3 T.

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Department of Radiology, Hospital Quirón Valencia, Valencia 46010, Spain.



In vivo two-dimensional (2D) fractal dimension (D2D) analysis of the cancellous bone at 1.5 T has been related to bone structural complexity and shown to be a potential imaging-based biomarker for osteoporosis. The objectives of this study were to assess at 3 T the in vivo feasibility of three-dimensional (3D) bone fractal dimension (D3D) analysis, analyze the relationship of D2D and D3D with osteoporosis, and investigate the relationship of D3D with spinal bone mineral density (BMD).


A total of 24 female subjects (67 +/- 7 yr old, mean +/- SD) was included in this study. The cohort consisted of 12 healthy volunteers and 12 patients with osteoporosis. MR image acquisitions were performed in the nondominant metaphysis of the distal radius with a 3 T MR scanner and an isotropic resolution of 180 microm. After segmentation and structural reconstruction, 2D and 3D box-counting algorithms were applied to calculate the fractal complexity of the cancellous bone. D2D and D3D values were compared between patients with osteoporosis and healthy subjects, and their relationship with radius BV/TV and spinal BMD was also assessed.


Significant differences between healthy subjects and patients with osteoporosis were obtained for D3D (p < 0.001), with less differentiation for D2D (p = 0.04). The relationship between fractal dimension and BMD was not significant (r = 0.43, p = 0.16 and r = 0.23, p = 0.48, for D2D and D3D, respectively).


The feasibility of trabecular bone D3D calculations at 3 T and the relationship of both D2D and D3D parameters with osteoporosis were demonstrated, with a better differentiation for the 3D method. Furthermore, the D3D parameter has probably a different nature of information regarding the trabecular bone status not directly explained by BMD alone. Future studies with subjects with osteopenia and larger sample sizes are warranted to further establish the potential of D2D and D3D in the study of osteoporosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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