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Osteoporos Int. 1998;8(1):16-24.

Heterogeneity of trabecular bone structure in the calcaneus using magnetic resonance imaging.

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Department of Radiology, University of California, San Francisco 94143-1290, USA.


The purpose of this study was to quantify the heterogeneity in the trabecular bone structure in the calcaneus. Magnetic resonance (MR) images of the calcaneus were obtained in the sagittal plane at an in-plane resolution of 195 microns and a slice thickness of 1000 microns in 12 young normal subjects. Regions of interest (ROI) were selected to cover the calcaneus using a grid of square boxes (10 mm per side). A thresholding technique based on the regional intensity histogram was used to segment the images into trabecular bone and marrow phases and to calculate measures such as apparent trabecular bone area fraction, apparent trabecular spacing, apparent trabecular thickness and apparent trabecular number. Bone mineral density (BMD) of the calcaneus was assessed using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Histological sections of three calcanei were also analyzed using transmission light illumination, and the results used to calibrate our computational software. For a relatively narrow inter-subject variation in posterior BMD, a significant inter-subject variation was seen in MRI-derived structural parameters. Furthermore, the spatial heterogeneity of the structural parameters in the posterior region was as high as 40%. Thus, the posterior tuberosity of the calcaneus, a typical site for BMD and single-point ultrasound assessments, can demonstrate significant regional variation in trabecular bone structure.

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