Femoral neck BMD is a strong predictor of hip fracture susceptibility in elderly men and women because it detects cortical bone instability: the Rotterdam Study

Fernando Rivadeneira, M Carola Zillikens, Chris Edh De Laet, Albert Hofman, André G Uitterlinden, Thomas J Beck, Huibert Ap Pols
Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 2007, 22 (11): 1781-90

UNLABELLED: We studied HSA measurements in relation to hip fracture risk in 4,806 individuals (2,740 women). Hip fractures (n = 147) occurred at the same absolute levels of bone instability in both sexes. Cortical instability (propensity of thinner cortices in wide diameters to buckle) explains why hip fracture risk at different BMD levels is the same across sexes.

INTRODUCTION: Despite the sexual dimorphism of bone, hip fracture risk is very similar in men and women at the same absolute BMD. We aimed to elucidate the main structural properties of bone that underlie the measured BMD and that ultimately determines the risk of hip fracture in elderly men and women.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: This study is part of the Rotterdam Study (a large prospective population-based cohort) and included 147 incident hip fracture cases in 4,806 participants with DXA-derived hip structural analysis (mean follow-up, 8.6 yr). Indices compared in relation to fracture included neck width, cortical thickness, section modulus (an index of bending strength), and buckling ratio (an index of cortical bone instability). We used a mathematical model to calculate the hip fracture distribution by femoral neck BMD, BMC, bone area, and hip structure analysis (HSA) parameters (cortical thickness, section modulus narrow neck width, and buckling ratio) and compared it with prospective data from the Rotterdam Study.

RESULTS: In the prospective data, hip fracture cases in both sexes had lower BMD, thinner cortices, greater bone width, lower strength, and higher instability at baseline. In fractured individuals, men had an average BMD that was 0.09 g/cm(2) higher than women (p < 0.00001), whereas no significant difference in buckling ratios was seen. Modeled fracture distribution by BMD and buckling ratio levels were in concordance to the prospective data and showed that hip fractures seem to occur at the same absolute levels of bone instability (buckling ratio) in both men and women. No significant differences were observed between the areas under the ROC curves of BMD (0.8146 in women and 0.8048 in men) and the buckling ratio (0.8161 in women and 0.7759 in men).

CONCLUSIONS: The buckling ratio (an index of bone instability) portrays in both sexes the critical balance between cortical thickness and bone width. Our findings suggest that extreme thinning of cortices in expanded bones plays a key role on local susceptibility to fracture. Even though the buckling ratio does not offer additional predictive value, these findings improve our understanding of why low BMD is a good predictor of fragility fractures.

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