Original Articles

Aging Clinical and Experimental Research

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 131-135

First online:

Poor correlation of mid-femoral measurements by CT and hip measurements by DXA in the elderly

  • Dennis R. TaaffeAffiliated withEpidemiology, Demography and Biometry Program, National Institute on AgingSchool of Human Movement Studies, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Queensland Email author 
  • , Thomas F. LangAffiliated withDepartment of Radiology, University of California
  • , Tamara B. HarrisAffiliated withEpidemiology, Demography and Biometry Program, National Institute on Aging

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Background and aims: Hip fracture is a devastating event in terms of outcome in the elderly, and the best predictor of hip fracture risk is hip bone density, usually measured by dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). However, bone density can also be ascertained from computerized tomography (CT) scans, and mid-thigh scans are frequently employed to assess the muscle and fat composition of the lower limb. Therefore, we examined if it was possible to predict hip bone density using mid-femoral bone density. Methods: Subjects were 803 ambulatory white and black women and men, aged 70–79 years, participating in the Health, Aging and Body Composition (Health ABC) Study. Bone mineral content (BMC, g) and volumetric bone mineral density (vBMD, mg/cm3) of the mid-femur were obtained by CT, whereas BMC and areal bone mineral density (aBMD, g/cm2) of the hip (femoral neck and trochanter) were derived from DXA. Results: In regression analyses stratified by race and sex, the coefficient of determination was low with mid-femoral BMC, explaining 6–27% of the variance in hip BMC, with a standard error of estimate (SEE) ranging from 16 to 22% of the mean. For midfemur vBMD, the variance explained in hip aBMD was 2–17% with a SEE ranging from 15 to 18%. Adjusting aBMD to approximate volumetric density did not improve the relationships. In addition, the utility of fracture prediction was examined. Forty-eight subjects had one or more fractures (various sites) during a mean follow-up of 4.07 years. In logistic regression analysis, there was no association between mid-femoral vBMD and fracture (all fractures), whereas a 1 SD increase in hip BMD was associated with reduced odds for fracture of ∼60%. Conclusions: These results do not support the use of CT-derived mid-femoral vBMD or BMC to predict DXA-measured hip bone mineral status, irrespective of race or sex in older adults. Further, in contrast to femoral neck and trochanter BMD, mid-femur vBMD was not able to predict fracture (all fractures).

Key words

Bone mineral density computerized tomography (CT) dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) elderly hip fracture mid-femur