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Endplate morphology is understood to play an important role in the mechanical behavior of vertebral bone as well as degenerative processes in spinal tissues; however, the utility of clinical imaging modalities in assessment of the vertebral endplate has been limited. The objective of this study was to evaluate the ability of two clinical imaging modalities (digital tomosynthesis, DTS; high resolution computed tomography, HRCT) to assess endplate topography by correlating the measurements to a microcomputed tomography (μCT) standard. DTS, HRCT, and μCT images of 117 cadaveric thoracolumbar vertebrae (T10-L1; 23 male, 19 female; ages 36-100 years) were segmented, and inferior and superior endplate surface topographical distribution parameters were calculated. Both DTS and HRCT showed statistically significant correlations with μCT approaching a moderate level of correlation at the superior endplate for all measured parameters (R(2)Adj=0.19-0.57), including averages, variability, and higher order statistical moments. Correlation of average depths at the inferior endplate was comparable to the superior case for both DTS and HRCT (R(2)Adj=0.14-0.51), while correlations became weak or nonsignificant for higher moments of the topography distribution. DTS was able to capture variations in the endplate topography to a slightly better extent than HRCT, and taken together with the higher speed and lower radiation cost of DTS than HRCT, DTS appears preferable for endplate measurements.

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Bone Density; Female; Humans; Lumbar Vertebrae; Male; Thoracic Vertebrae; Tomography, X-Ray Computed; X-Ray Microtomography

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