More than half of older women who sustain a fragility fracture do not have osteoporosis by World Health Organization (WHO) bone mineral density (BMD) criteria; and, while BMD has been used to assess fracture risk for over 30 years, a range of other skeletal and nonskeletal clinical risk factors (CRFs) for fracture have been recognized. More than 30 assessment tools using CRFs have been developed, some predicting fracture risk and others low BMD alone. Recent systematic reviews have reported that many tools have not been validated against fracture incidence, and that the complexity of tools and the number of CRFs included do not ensure best performance with poor assessment of (internal or comparative) validity. Internationally, FRAX® is the most commonly recommended tool, in addition to QFracture in the UK, The Canadian Association of Radiologists and Osteoporosis Canada (CAROC) tool in Canada and Garvan in Australia. All tools estimate standard 10-year risk of major osteoporotic and 10-year risk of hip fracture: FRAX® is able to estimate fracture risk either with or without BMD, but CAROC and Garvan both require BMD and QFracture does not. The best evidence for the utility of these tools is in case finding but there may be future prospects for the use of 10-year fracture risk as a common currency with reference to the benefits of treatment, whether pharmacological or lifestyle. The use of this metric is important in supporting health economic analyses. However, further calibration studies will be needed to prove that the tools are robust and that their estimates can be used in supporting treatment decisions, independent of BMD.
Keywords: FRAX®; Garvan; QFracture; fracture risk assessment; osteoporosis; postmenopausal women.