An Automated Method for Precise Measurement of Vertebral Body Height and Intervertebral Disk Height Using Computed Tomography

Vertebral fractures due to osteoporosis result in loss of vertebral height. Degenerative disk disease in the spine results in loss of disk height. Currently, radiography and magnetic resonance imaging are used to assess vertebral and disk height, and measurements are done manually. The present invention offers improved method to measure vertebral and disk heights. The invention provides computer algorithm that substantially automates the task, and uses computed tomography. The advantage of computed tomography over radiography is that of 3D imaging over 2D imaging. Computed tomography's advantage over MRI is better image resolution. The combination of automation and superior imaging capability makes the method substantially more precise than previous ones. This allows better detection of changes in vertebral height and disk height over time, and thus aids in the planning of appropriate medical treatment in cases associated with the loss of vertebral or disc heights, such as in osteoporosis for example.

Potential Commercial Applications: Competitive Advantages:
  • The method would be useful for clinical trials of drugs for osteoporosis.
  • Because of the improved precision, achieving statistical significance in assessing the efficacy of a drug would require smaller samples.
  • The present method is semi-automated.
  • The method is more precise and sensitive than existing methods, thus providing more reliable statistical analysis and improved planning in treatment regimen.

Development Stage:
In vivo data available (human)


Sovira Tan (NIAMS)  ➽ more inventions...

Intellectual Property:
Software — Patent protection is not being pursued for this technology.

Collaboration Opportunity:

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases is seeking statements of capability or interest from parties interested in collaborative research to further develop, evaluate or commercialize this technology. For collaboration opportunities, please contact Brian W. Bailey, Ph.D. at

Licensing Contact:
Michael Shmilovich, J.D.
Phone: 301-435-5019

OTT Reference No: E-166-2011-0
Updated: Aug 12, 2011