Absolute fracture risk assessment using lumbar spine and femoral neck bone density measurements: derivation and validation of a hybrid system

J Bone Miner Res. 2011 Mar;26(3):460-7. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.248.


The World Health Organization (WHO) Fracture Risk Assessment Tool (FRAX) computes 10-year probability of major osteoporotic fracture from multiple risk factors, including femoral neck (FN) T-scores. Lumbar spine (LS) measurements are not currently part of the FRAX formulation but are used widely in clinical practice, and this creates confusion when there is spine-hip discordance. Our objective was to develop a hybrid 10-year absolute fracture risk assessment system in which nonvertebral (NV) fracture risk was assessed from the FN and clinical vertebral (V) fracture risk was assessed from the LS. We identified 37,032 women age 45 years and older undergoing baseline FN and LS dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA; 1990-2005) from a population database that contains all clinical DXA results for the Province of Manitoba, Canada. Results were linked to longitudinal health service records for physician billings and hospitalizations to identify nontrauma vertebral and nonvertebral fracture codes after bone mineral density (BMD) testing. The population was randomly divided into equal-sized derivation and validation cohorts. Using the derivation cohort, three fracture risk prediction systems were created from Cox proportional hazards models (adjusted for age and multiple FRAX risk factors): FN to predict combined all fractures, FN to predict nonvertebral fractures, and LS to predict vertebral (without nonvertebral) fractures. The hybrid system was the sum of nonvertebral risk from the FN model and vertebral risk from the LS model. The FN and hybrid systems were both strongly predictive of overall fracture risk (p < .001). In the validation cohort, ROC analysis showed marginally better performance of the hybrid system versus the FN system for overall fracture prediction (p = .24) and significantly better performance for vertebral fracture prediction (p < .001). In a discordance subgroup with FN and LS T-score differences greater than 1 SD, there was a significant improvement in overall fracture prediction with the hybrid method (p = .025). Risk reclassification under the hybrid system showed better alignment with observed fracture risk, with 6.4% of the women reclassified to a different risk category. In conclusion, a hybrid 10-year absolute fracture risk assessment system based on combining FN and LS information is feasible. The improvement in fracture risk prediction is small but supports clinical interest in a system that integrates LS in fracture risk assessment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Area Under Curve
  • Bone Density / physiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Femur Neck* / physiology
  • Femur Neck* / physiopathology
  • Fractures, Bone / diagnosis*
  • Fractures, Bone / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Lumbar Vertebrae* / physiology
  • Lumbar Vertebrae* / physiopathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Biological*
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • ROC Curve
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Assessment / methods*
  • Risk Assessment / standards*