DXA-Based Measurements in Diabetes: Can They Predict Fracture Risk?

Calcif Tissue Int. 2017 Feb;100(2):150-164. doi: 10.1007/s00223-016-0191-x. Epub 2016 Sep 3.


In the absence of a fragility fracture, osteoporosis is usually diagnosed from bone mineral density (BMD) measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Osteoporosis is an increasingly prevalent disease, as is diabetes [in particular type 2 diabetes (T2D)], in part due to aging populations worldwide. It has been suggested that an increased risk of fracture may be another complication ensuing from longstanding diabetes. The purpose of this review is to concentrate on skeletal parameters and techniques readily available from DXA scanning, and their utility in routine clinical practice for predicting fracture risk. In addition to BMD, other applications and measures from DXA include trabecular bone score (TBS), skeletal geometry and DXA-based finite-element analysis, vertebral fracture assessment, and body composition. In type 1 diabetes (T1D), BMD and FRAXR (when secondary osteoporosis is included without BMD) only partially account for the excess risk of fracture in T1D. Consistent data exist to show that BMD and FRAXR can be used to stratify fracture risk in T2D, but do not account for the increased risk of fracture. However, several adjustments to the FRAX score can be made as proxies for T2D to inform the use of FRAX by primary care practitioners. Examples include using the rheumatoid arthritis input (as a proxy for T2D), lumbar spine TBS (to adjust FRAX probability) or an altered hip T-score (lowered by 0.5 units). These adjustments can improve fracture risk prediction in T2D and help to avoid systematically underestimating the risk of osteoporosis-related fractures in those with diabetes.

Keywords: Bone geometry; Diabetes; Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry; FRAX; Fracture risk; Osteoporosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications*
  • Humans
  • Osteoporotic Fractures / complications*
  • Osteoporotic Fractures / diagnostic imaging*
  • Risk Factors