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Femur strength index predicts hip fracture independent of bone density and hip axis length.

INTRODUCTION: Proximal femoral bone strength is not only a function of femoral bone mineral density (BMD), but also a function of the spatial distribution of bone mass intrinsic in structural geometric properties such as diameter, area, length, and angle of the femoral neck. Recent advancements in bone density measurement include software that can automatically calculate a variety of femoral structural variables that may be related to hip fracture risk. The purpose of this study was to compare femoral bone density, structure, and strength assessments obtained from dual-energy X-ray absorbtiometry (DXA) measurements in a group of women with and without hip fracture.

METHODS: DXA measurements of the proximal femur were obtained from 2,506 women 50 years of age or older, 365 with prior hip fracture and 2,141 controls. In addition to the conventional densitometry measurements, structural variables were determined using the Hip Strength Analysis program, including hip axis length (HAL), cross-sectional moment of inertia (CSMI), and the femur strength index (FSI) calculated as the ratio of estimated compressive yield strength of the femoral neck to the expected compressive stress of a fall on the greater trochanter.

RESULTS: Femoral neck BMD was significantly lower and HAL significantly higher in the fracture group compared with controls. Mean CSMI was not significantly different between fracture patients and controls after adjustment for BMD and HAL. FSI, after adjustment for T score and HAL, was significantly lower in the fracture group, consistent with a reduced capacity to withstand a fall without fracturing a hip.

CONCLUSION: We conclude that BMD, HAL, and FSI are significant independent predictors of hip fracture.

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