Objective: This study aimed to quantify lumbar volumetric bone mineral density (vBMD) for 873 seriously injured Crash Injury Research and Engineering Network (CIREN) motor vehicle crash occupants (372 male, 501 female) from 8 centers using phantomless computed tomography scans and to associate vBMD with age, fracture incidence, and osteopenia/osteoporosis diagnoses. The novelty of this work is that it associates vBMD with region of injury by applying an established method for vBMD measurement using phantomless computed tomography (CT). Methods: A validated phantomless CT calibration method that uses patient-specific fat and muscle measurements to calibrate vBMD measured from the L1–L5 trabeculae was applied on 873 occupants from various CIREN centers. CT-measured lumbar vBMD < 145 mg/cc is indicative of osteopenia using a published threshold. CIREN occupant lumbar vBMD in milligrams per cubic centimeter was regressed against age, osteopenia/osteoporosis comorbidities, height, weight, body mass index (BMI), and the incidence of fracture in vertebral (cervical, thoracic, lumbar) and rib/sternum regions. Results: Among the 873 occupants analyzed, 11% (92 occupants) were diagnosed as osteopenic in CIREN. Of these 92 occupants, 42% (39 occupants) had normal vBMD measures (≥145 mg/cc), suggesting possible misclassification in CIREN. Of the 134 occupants classified as osteopenic in vBMD analysis, 60% were not classified as osteopenic in CIREN, suggesting undiagnosed osteopenia, and 40% were correctly classified in CIREN. Age was negatively correlated with vBMD (P <.0001) and occupants with <145 mg/cc vBMD sustained a median number of 2 rib/sternum fractures compared to a median value of 0 rib/sternum fractures for the ≥145 mg/cc vBMD group (P <.0001). Vertebral fracture analysis revealed that the thoracolumbar region was the most common region of injury in the spine. Though the incidence of fracture was not significantly different in the thoracic (10% versus 6%, P =.122) and lumbar (16% versus 13%, P =.227) regions between the 2 bone quality groups, the proportion of thoracolumbar fractures was significantly higher in occupants with <145 mg/cc vBMD versus occupants with ≥145 mg/cc vBMD (24% versus 17%, P =.043). Conclusions: Low lumbar vertebral bone quality is associated with an increased number of rib/sternum fractures and a greater incidence of thoracolumbar vertebral body fractures within the CIREN population analyzed.
- Lumbar vertebral bone quality
- computed tomography