Characterization of regional variation of bone mineral density in the geriatric human cervical spine by quantitative computed tomography

Ryan S. Garay, Giovanni F. Solitro, Kenrick C. Lam, Randal P. Morris, Abeer Albarghouthi, Ronald W. Lindsey, Loren L. Latta, Francesco Travascio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background Odontoid process fractures are among the most common in elderly cervical spines. Their treatment often requires fixation, which may include use of implants anteriorly or posteriorly. Bone density can significantly affect the outcomes of these procedures. Currently, little is known about bone mineral density (BMD) distributions within cervical spine in elderly. This study documented BMD distribution across various anatomical regions of elderly cervical vertebrae. Methods and findings Twenty-three human cadaveric C1-C5 spine segments (14 males and 9 female, 74±9.3 y. o.) were imaged via quantitative CT-scan. Using an established experimental protocol, the three-dimensional shapes of the vertebrae were reconstructed from CT images and partitioned in bone regions (4 regions for C1, 14 regions for C2 and 12 regions for C3-5). The BMD was calculated from the Hounsfield units via calibration phantom. For each vertebral level, effects of gender and anatomical bone region on BMD distribution were investigated via pertinent statistical tools. Data trends suggested that BMD was higher in female vertebrae when compared to male ones. In C1, the highest BMD was found in the posterior portion of the bone. In C2, BMD at the dens was the highest, followed by lamina and spinous process, and the posterior aspect of the vertebral body. In C3-5, lateral masses, lamina, and spinous processes were characterized by the largest values of BMD, followed by the posterior vertebral body. Conclusions The higher BMD values characterizing the posterior aspects of vertebrae suggest that, in the elderly, posterior surgical approaches may offer a better fixation quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0271187
JournalPloS one
Issue number7 July
StatePublished - Jul 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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