Nonstandard Lumbar Region in Predicting Fracture Risk

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Journal Article
Journal of Clinical Densitometry, 2018, 21 (2), pp. 220 - 226
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© 2017 The International Society for Clinical Densitometry Femoral neck (FN) bone mineral density (BMD) is the most commonly used skeletal site to estimate fracture risk. The role of lumbar spine (LS) BMD in fracture risk prediction is less clear due to osteophytes that spuriously increase LS BMD, particularly at lower levels. The aim of this study was to compare fracture predictive ability of upper L1–L2 BMD with standard L2–L4 BMD and assess whether the addition of either LS site could improve fracture prediction over FN BMD. This study comprised a prospective cohort of 3016 women and men over 60 yr from the Dubbo Osteoporosis Epidemiology Study followed up for occurrence of minimal trauma fractures from 1989 to 2014. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry was used to measure BMD at L1–L2, L2–L4, and FN at baseline. Fracture risks were estimated using Cox proportional hazards models separately for each site. Predictive performances were compared using receiver operating characteristic curve analyses. There were 565 women and 179 men with a minimal trauma fracture during a mean of 11 ± 7 yr. L1–L2 BMD T-score was significantly lower than L2–L4 T-score in both genders (p < 0.0001). L1–L2 and L2–L4 BMD models had a similar fracture predictive ability. LS BMD was better than FN BMD in predicting vertebral fracture risk in women [area under the curve 0.73 (95% confidence interval, 0.68–0.79) vs 0.68 (95% confidence interval, 0.62–0.74), but FN was superior for hip fractures prediction in both women and men. The addition of L1–L2 or L2–L4 to FN BMD in women increased overall and vertebral predictive power compared with FN BMD alone by 1% and 4%, respectively (p < 0.05). In an elderly population, L1–L2 is as good as but not better than L2–L4 site in predicting fracture risk. The addition of LS BMD to FN BMD provided a modest additional benefit in overall fracture risk. Further studies in individuals with spinal degenerative disease are needed.
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