Leslie WD, Binkley N, Hans D, McCloskey EV.
Trabecular bone score (TBS), a texture measure derived from spine dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) images, is a bone mineral density (BMD)-independent risk factor for fracture. TBS is reportedly insensitive to degenerative changes, and it is uncertain whether the same rules for excluding lumbar vertebral levels from BMD measurement should be applied to TBS. The current analysis was performed to explore inter-vertebral variation in TBS measurements from L1 to L4, how this relates to clinically identified structural artifact resulting in vertebral level exclusion from BMD reporting, and area under the curve (AUC) for incident fracture. The study population comprised 70,762 individuals aged 40 years and older at the time of baseline spine DXA assessment (mean age 64.1 years, 89.7% female), among whom 24,289 (34.3%) had one or more vertebral exclusions. Both TBS and BMD showed a similar cranial/caudal inter-vertebral gradient. Compared with L1-4, TBS from L1 alone was lower (mean difference -0.096; -7.6%) while TBS from L4 alone was 0.046 (3.6%) greater, similar in those without and with visual structural artifact. During mean follow-up of 8.7 years, 6744 (9.5%) individuals sustained incident major osteoporotic fractures. TBS from L1 alone gave significantly higher AUC for incident fracture than L1-4, which was in turn significantly higher than L2, L3 and L4 alone, seen in those without and with visual structural artifact. In contrast, AUCs for BMD showed minimal variation from L1 to L4, and was higher for L1-4 than for any individual lumbar vertebral level. In summary, we found inter-vertebral TBS variations within the lumbar spine are overall similar to BMD but are relatively unaffected by visual structural artifact. Fracture outcomes showed the strongest association with TBS measured from L1 alone. Further investigation is need to understand the cause and clinical application of these differences.