Osteoporosis is one of the important systemic features of COPD. Although COPD itself is regarded as one risk factor for osteoporosis, the relationship between the extent of emphysema and reduced bone density is still unclear. Our first aim was therefore to measure vertebral bone density and the percentage of low-attenuation area (LAA%) in the lungs using chest CT scans in COPD patients. Our second aim was to investigate the relationships among CT scan measurements, anthropometric parameters, and pulmonary function.
Chest CT scans and pulmonary function tests were performed in 65 male patients with COPD. Using CT images, the CT scan density of the thoracic and lumbar vertebrae (T4, T7, T10, and L1) and the LAA% were measured quantitatively, and their correlations were analyzed.
Linear regression analyses revealed that LAA% had a significant negative correlation with bone mineral density (BMD) [r = −0.522]. In addition, multiple regression analysis showed that only LAA% and body mass index (BMI) were predictive of BMD among age, BMI, smoking index, FEV1, arterial blood gas, and LAA%.
The extent of pulmonary emphysema significantly correlated with reduced bone density. Our study suggested that COPD itself could be a risk factor for osteoporosis and that chest CT scanning is useful for the management of COPD as a systemic disease.