Artifacts such as surgical clips, gallstones, and kidney stones are often present in the soft tissue stripe lateral to vertebral bodies. Using cadaveric specimens, we placed bra wires, gallbladder clips, a large gallstone, a calcium carbonate or a calcium citrate pill lateral to L1, or a large or small calcium-containing kidney stone lateral to L3 and compared the mean bone mineral density (BMD) of individual vertebral bodies and L1-L4 with and without the soft tissue artifact. The specimens used had high BMD (L1-L4 BMD = 1.049 g/cm2) and low BMD (L1-L4 BMD = 0.669 g/cm2) and were scanned with a Hologic Discovery W scanner with 12.7 software in the array mode. None of the artifacts affected L1 or L3 BMD or L1-L4 BMD significantly in the high BMD spine. However, bra wires, a large calcium citrate pill lateral to L1, 3 calcium citrate pills lateral to L1, a calcium carbonate pill over L1, and 3 calcium carbonate pills lateral to L1 did affect L1-L4 BMD in low BMD torso. Gallbladder clips or gallstone did not affect L1-L4 BMD in either specimen. We conclude that artifacts lateral to the spine, particularly in a low BMD spine, can affect the interpretation of L1-L4 BMD using a Hologic Discovery W scanner with 12.7 software in array mode. © 2008 The International Society for Clinical Densitometry.