Detection of Atypical Femur Fractures

J Clin Densitom. 2019 Oct-Dec;22(4):506-516. doi: 10.1016/j.jocd.2019.07.003. Epub 2019 Jul 10.


The 2019 International Society for Clinical Densitometry (ISCD) Position Development Conference Task Force for monitoring with dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) identified detection of atypical femur fractures (AFFs) as an important topic and established this working group to answer key questions in this area. The authors conducted a systematic review of the literature and deliberated on proposed ISCD positions, which were then reviewed by an external expert panel and vetted at the 2019 ISCD Position Development Conference in Kuala Lumpur on March 23, 2019. This paper summarizes the final ISCD positions and the rationale for supporting these positions. Default-length femur imaging or extended-length femur imaging as well as full-length femur imaging (FFI), both single-energy and dual-energy scans, by DXA can detect abnormalities in the spectrum of AFF. It is important to visually inspect all DXA scans of the hip and femur, and report on findings of focal periosteal and endosteal thickening at the lateral cortex (grade: Good, A, W). FFI is the preferred DXA scan mode for detecting abnormalities in the spectrum of AFF. The FFI report should state the absence or presence of abnormalities in the spectrum of AFF. If focal thickening is present on the lateral cortex, the report should state whether a lucent line is seen (grade: Fair, C, W). The ISCD recommends considering the use of bilateral FFI in patients who are currently or have been in the past year on potent antiresorptive therapy (ie, oral or intravenous bisphosphonate or subcutaneous denosumab therapy) for a cumulative period of 3 or more years, especially those on long-term glucocorticoid therapy (grade: Fair, B, W). More research is needed to determine the role of repeat testing and the optimal time interval for follow-up DXA scans, whether an automated measuring tool would perform better than visual inspection, whether FFI would change patient management and outcomes, and the cost-effectiveness of FFI.

Keywords: Atypical femur fracture; DXA; full-length femur imaging; monitor; osteoporosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon / methods*
  • Bone Density*
  • Consensus Development Conferences as Topic*
  • Femoral Fractures / diagnosis*
  • Femur / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Societies, Medical