The traditional method of assessing bone mineral density (BMD; given by bone mineral content [BMC] divided by projected bone area [Ap], BMD = BMC/Ap) has come under strong criticism by various authors. Their criticism being that the projected bone "area" (Ap) will systematically underestimate the skeletal bone "volume" of taller subjects. To reduce the confounding effects of bone size, an alternative ratio has been proposed called bone mineral apparent density [BMAD = BMC/(Ap)3/2]. However, bone size is not the only confounding variable associated with BMC. Others include age, sex, body size, and maturation. To assess the dimensional relationship between BMC and projected bone area, independent of other confounding variables, we proposed and fitted a proportional allometric model to the BMC data of the L2-L4 vertebrae from a previously published study. The projected bone area exponents were greater than unity for both boys (1.43) and girls (1.02), but only the boy's fitted exponent was not different from that predicted by geometric similarity (1.5). Based on these exponents, it is not clear whether bone mass acquisition increases in proportion to the projected bone area (Ap) or an estimate of projected bone volume (Ap)3/2. However, by adopting the proposed methods, the analysis will automatically adjust BMC for differences in projected bone size and other confounding variables for the particular population being studied. Hence, the necessity to speculate as to the theoretical value of the exponent of Ap, although interesting, becomes redundant.
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