Radiographic absorptiometry for bone mineral measurement of the phalanges: precision and accuracy study.
PURPOSE: To evaluate the accuracy and precision of a radiographic absorptiometry (RA) method for assessment of bone mineral of the middle phalanges. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Nineteen cadaveric hands were radiographed with an aluminum wedge, once at 50 kVp and 400 mA and once at 60 kVp and 300 mA. Bone mineral content (BMC) and bone mineral density (BMD) of the second to fourth middle phalanges, expressed in arbitrary units (BMC-AU and BMD-AU), were analyzed and averaged in each hand. RESULTS: The precision error of this method was 1.0% for BMC-AU and 0.6% for BMD-AU. A 2.0%-2.4% reduction in BMD-AU seen on radiographs obtained through ethanol thicknesses of 5 and 6 mm compared with that seen on controls was statistically significant (P < .01). The correlation between BMC-AU and forearm BMC determined with dual x-ray absorptiometry was good (r = .887), and that between BMC-AU and ash weight in the phalanges was excellent (r = .983). CONCLUSION: The RA method is precise and accurate for bone mineral assessment of the peripheral appendicular skeleton.