The fixation strength of bone screws depends on bone mineral density (BMD), so it is important to evaluate bone strength at fracture sites. Few studies have investigated BMD in the pelvis. The aims of this study were to measure the regional Hounsfield unit (HU) values in the cancellous bone of the acetabulum and pelvic ring and to compare these values between young and elderly patients.
This study enrolled young patients with high-energy trauma (aged 20–44 years; young group) and elderly patients with low-energy trauma (aged 65–89 years; elderly group). Patients without pelvic computed tomography (CT) scans, those with pelvic bone implants, and those who died were excluded. The HU values on the contralateral (non-fractured) side of the pelvis were measured on CT scans. The CT data were divided into 7 areas: the pubic bone, the anterior and posterior walls and roof of the acetabulum, the ischial tuberosity, the body of the ilium, and the third lumbar vertebra. The HU values in each area were compared between the young and elderly groups.
Sixty-one young patients and 154 elderly patients were included in the study. The highest HU value was in the roof of the acetabulum regardless of age and sex. HU values were significantly higher in the ischial tuberosity and body of the ilium and lower in the pubic bone and anterior wall. The HU values in all pelvic areas were significantly lower in the elderly group than in the young group, especially in the anterior area.
HU values in the 6 pelvic areas were not uniform and were strongly related to load distribution. The HU distribution and age-related differences could explain the characteristic causes and patterns of acetabular fractures in the elderly and may help in surgical treatment.