Fragility fractures in men represent a major health problem, and this prompts a necessity for reliable tools for the identification of men at risk of fracture. In order to assess the ability of dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and quantitative ultrasound (QUS) in the prediction of fracture risk in men and whether their combination might be useful in a clinical setting, we studied 401 men (age range 45–82 years, mean 60.3±12.5), of whom 133 had osteoporotic fractures and 268 did not. In all subjects we measured bone mineral density at the lumbar spine (BMD-LS) and at the femur, calculating thereafter the standard femoral subregions: neck (BMD-FN), total hip (BMD-T), trochanter (BMD-TR), intertrochanter (BMD-ITR), and Ward’s triangle (BMD-W), by DXA. We also performed ultrasound parameters at the calcaneus: speed of sound (SOS), broadband ultrasound attenuation (BUA) and Stiffness, by Achilles plus, and at the phalanxes: amplitude dependent speed of sound (AD-SoS) and the parameters of the graphic trace: bone transmission time (BTT), fast wave amplitude (FWA), signal dynamic (SDy) and ultrasound bone profile index (UBPI), by Bone Profiler. All DXA and QUS parameters, apart from FWA, were significantly (P<0.001) lower in patients with a history of fracture. BMD at the proximal femur showed the best ability in discriminating men with or without fractures. QUS at the heel showed discriminatory ability significantly better than QUS at the fingers. By logistic regression analysis, adjusted for age and BMI, BMD-T showed the best association with fragility fracture [odds ratio (OR)=3.43, 95% confidence interval (CI)=2.47–4.77]. Among QUS parameters, the highest value of the OR was shown by stiffness (OR=3.18, CI=2.27–4.48). FWA and SDy were not associated with fragility fractures in men. If DXA and QUS were combined, the prediction of the OR of fragility fracture events in men increases; in fact Stiffness was able to increase the OR when added to BMD-LS (OR=5.44, CI=3.16–10.13) and BMD-T (OR=6.08, CI=2.63–14.27). SOS and BUA showed a similar pattern. AD-SoS improved the prediction of fracture only when combined with BMD-LS (OR=4.36, CI=1.99–9.57). If BMD-LS and BMD-FN or BMD-T were combined, the value of the OR increases (OR=4.59, CI=2.27–9.25 and OR=4.68, CI=2.24–9.76), respectively. Our study supports the effectiveness of QUS in the identification of osteoporotic fractures in men. QUS seems to play an independent and complementary role, with respect to DXA, in order to enhance the power for predicting osteoporotic fractures in men.
Bone mineral densityFragility fracturesMenQuantitative ultrasound