Prediction of fracture risk in postmenopausal white women with peripheral bone densitometry: evidence from the National Osteoporosis Risk Assessment

J Bone Miner Res. 2002 Dec;17(12):2222-30. doi: 10.1359/jbmr.2002.17.12.2222.


Low bone mineral density (BMD) is a risk factor for fracture. Although the current "gold standard" test is DXA of the hip and spine, this method is not universally available. No large studies have evaluated the ability of new, less expensive peripheral technologies to predict fracture. We studied the association between BMD measurements at peripheral sites and subsequent fracture risk at the hip, wrist/forearm, spine, and rib in 149,524 postmenopausal white women, without prior diagnosis of osteoporosis. At enrollment, each participant completed a risk assessment questionnaire and had BMD testing at the heel, forearm, or finger. Main outcomes were new fractures of the hip, wrist/forearm, spine, or rib within the first 12 months after testing. After 1 year, 2259 women reported 2340 new fractures. Based on manufacturers' normative data and multivariable adjusted analyses, women who had T scores < or = -2.5 SD were 2.15 (finger) to 3.94 (heel ultrasound [US]) times more likely to fracture than women with normal BMD. All measurement sites/devices predicted fracture equally well, and risk prediction was similar whether calculated from the manufacturers' young normal values (T scores) or using SDs from the mean age of the National Osteoporosis Risk Assessment (NORA) population. The areas under receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves for hip fracture were comparable with those published using measurements at hip sites. We conclude that low BMD found by peripheral technologies, regardless of the site measured, is associated with at least a twofold increased risk of fracture within 1 year, even at skeletal sites other than the one measured.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Bone Density*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporosis / epidemiology*
  • Postmenopause*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Surveys and Questionnaires