Use of Trabecular Bone Score (TBS) as a Complementary Approach to Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA) for Fracture Risk Assessment in Clinical Practice

J Clin Densitom. 2017 Jul-Sep;20(3):334-345. doi: 10.1016/j.jocd.2017.06.019. Epub 2017 Jul 19.


Osteoporosis is a common bone disease characterized by low bone mass and altered bone microarchitecture, resulting in decreased bone strength with an increased risk of fractures. In clinical practice, physicians can assess the risk of fracture for a patient based on several risk factors. Some such as age, weight, and history of fractures after 50 years of age, parental fracture, smoking status, and alcohol intake are incorporated into FRAX, an assessment tool that estimates the 10-year probability of hip fracture and major osteoporotic fractures based on the individual's risk factors profile. The diagnosis of osteoporosis is currently based on bone mineral density (BMD) assessed by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scans. Among other widely recognized limitations of BMD is that BMD considers only the density of the bone and fails in measuring bone microarchitecture, for which novel techniques, such as trabecular bone score (TBS), have been developed. TBS is a texture parameter related to bone microarchitecture that may provide skeletal information that is not captured from the standard BMD measurement. Several studies have examined the value of TBS on predicting osteoporotic fractures. Our study aimed to summarize a review of the current scientific literature with focus on fracture risk assessment and to present both its findings and its conclusions regarding how and when TBS should be used. The existing literature indicates that low lumbar spine TBS is associated with a history of fracture and the incidence of new fracture. The effect is largely independent of BMD and of sufficient magnitude to enhance risk stratification with BMD. The TBS effect is also independent of FRAX, with likely greatest utility for those individuals whose BMD levels lie close to an intervention threshold. The clinical and scientific evidence supporting the use of TBS, with the ability of this technology to be seamlessly integrated into a daily workflow, makes TBS an attractive and useful clinical tool for physicians to improve patient management in osteoporosis. Further research is ongoing and necessary to further clarify the role of TBS in additional specific disorders.

Keywords: BMD; TBS; fracture risk assessment; osteoporosis; secondary osteoporosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon / methods
  • Bone Density
  • Bone Density Conservation Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cancellous Bone / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Osteoporosis / complications*
  • Osteoporosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Osteoporosis / drug therapy
  • Osteoporosis / physiopathology
  • Osteoporotic Fractures / etiology*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Bone Density Conservation Agents