Distribution of bone mineral density in the lumbar spine in health and osteoporosis

P J Ryan, G M Blake, R Herd, J Parker, I Fogelman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


The significance of variability in bone mineral density (BMD) between lumbar vertebrae L1 to L4 in the same individual was investigated by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry in 1000 normal women aged 40-60 years (average 52 years) and 145 women aged 45-80 years (average 65 years) with vertebral osteoporosis. The mean BMD increased from L1 to L4 in normal women from 0.841 g/cm2 to 1.017 g/cm2, and in osteoporotics from 0.562 g/cm2 to 0.709 g/cm2. Z scores for osteoporotic women (Z = osteoporotic BMD - age-normal BMD/normal SD) were significantly lower for individual vertebrae compared with L1-4 and at L4 compared with L1, L2 and L3 (p <0.001). The mean difference between Z scores for the highest and lowest vertebrae in an individual was 0.70 for normals (SD = 0.40) and 0.64 for osteoporotics (SD = 0.36). The mean Z score difference between the L1-4 Z score and the lowest individual vertebral Z score was 0.36 for normals (SD = 0.23) and 0.06 for osteoporotics (SD = 0.31). However, receiver operating analysis (ROC) curves showed that the lowest Z score for any individual vertebra did not provide improved discrimination between normals and osteoporotics when compared with the L1-4 Z score. The area under the ROC curve for L1-4 was significantly greater than for individual vertebrae (p <0.05) and that for L4 was significantly smaller than for L1, L2 or L3 (p <0.001). In conclusion, L1-4 BMD gives greater diagnostic sensitivity for osteoporosis than individual vertebrae, and L1, L2 and L3 are better than L4.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-71
Number of pages5
JournalOsteoporosis International
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1994


Dive into the research topics of 'Distribution of bone mineral density in the lumbar spine in health and osteoporosis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this