Quantitative Computed Tomography (QCT)

Pioneered at UCSF, quantitative computed tomography (QCT) is a test to measure bone mineral density (BMD). It is performed using a computed tomography (CT) scanner and results in a 3D image. Hip and lumbar spine are the most common choices for evaluation with QCT.

QCT is recommended for:

  • Those at risk of osteopenia (low bone mass)
  • People who are being treated for osteoporosis and need to be monitored
  • Those receiving, or who will receive, steroid therapy
  • People with hyperparathyroidism
  • Those with vertebral abnormalities
  • People who are either small or tall
  • Patients with large body habitus
  • Those that have degenerative spine disease – in particular men


  • Anyone who recently had a test that involved barium, iodine, or other contrast materials
  • Women who are or may be pregnant

What are the advantages of QCT?

Many people who cannot undergo DXA testing for various reasons can safely have a QCT scan. QCT scans are safe and offer reliable BMD measurements for patients who have:

  • Arthritis
  • Scoliosis
  • Disc space narrowing
  • Spinal degenerative diseases
  • Aortic calcification
  • Osteophytes
  • Obesity

QCT protocols are within the low-dose range, comparable to that of mammograms.

Advantages of QCT at UCSF

  • Rigorous protocols ensure safety
  • Results read by world-class physicians who are subspecialty experts
  • High-quality, advanced equipment and techniques

Who performs QCT at UCSF?

Professor, & Chief of Musculoskeletal Imaging
Clinical Director of MQIR
Co-Director, Musculoskeletal RIG
Director, T32 Program
Professor in Residence
Chair, Diversity Committee
Co-Director of Focused Ultrasound
Asst. Professor in Residence
Assistant Professor
Asst. Prof of Clin Radiology
Professor Emeritus
Prof of Clinical Radiology
Assistant Professor
Orthopaedic Surgery
Assistant Clinical Professor