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Medical engineering & physics


Digital tomosynthesis (DTS) is a clinically available modality that allows imaging of a patient's spine in supine and standing positions. The purpose of this study was to establish the extent to which vertebral displacement and stiffness derived from DTS-based digital volume correlation (DTS-DVC) are correlated with those from a reference method, i.e., microcomputed tomography-based DVC (μCT-DVC). T11 vertebral bodies from 11 cadaveric donors were DTS imaged twice in a nonloaded state and once under a fixed load level approximating upper body weight. The same vertebrae were µCT imaged in nonloaded and loaded states (40 μm voxel size). Vertebral displacements were calculated at each voxel using DVC with pairs of nonloaded and loaded images, from which endplate-to-endplate axial displacement (D(DVC)) and vertebral stiffness (S(DVC)) were calculated. Both D(DVC) and S(DVC) demonstrated strong positive correlations between DTS-DVC and μCT-DVC, with correlations being stronger when vertebral displacement was calculated using the median (R(2)=0.80; p<0.0002 and R(2)=0.93; p<0.0001, respectively) rather than average displacement (R(2)=0.63; p<0.004 and R(2)=0.69; p<0.002, respectively). In conclusion, the demonstrated relationship of DTS-DVC with the μCT standard supports further development of a biomechanics-based clinical assessment of vertebral bone quality using the DTS-DVC technique.

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