Original Article

Osteoporosis International

, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 1379-1388

First online:

A comparison of DXA and CT based methods for estimating the strength of the femoral neck in post-menopausal women

  • M. E. DanielsonAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh Email author 
  • , T. J. BeckAffiliated withBeck Radiological Innovations, Inc.
  • , A. S. KarlamanglaAffiliated withDavid Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles
  • , G. A. GreendaleAffiliated withDavid Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles
  • , E. J. AtkinsonAffiliated withDivision of Biomedical Statistics and Informatics, Mayo Clinic
  • , Y. LianAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh
  • , A. S. KhaledAffiliated withDepartment of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Johns Hopkins University
  • , T. M. KeavenyAffiliated withO.N. Diagnostics
  • , D. KopperdahlAffiliated withO.N. Diagnostics
    • , K. RuppertAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh
    • , S. GreenspanAffiliated withDepartment of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
    • , M. VugaAffiliated withDepartment of Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh
    • , J. A. CauleyAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh

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The study goal was to compare simple two-dimensional (2D) analyses of bone strength using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) data to more sophisticated three-dimensional (3D) finite element analyses using quantitative computed tomography (QCT) data. DXA- and QCT-derived femoral neck geometry, simple strength indices, and strength estimates were well correlated.


Simple 2D analyses of bone strength can be done with DXA data and applied to large data sets. We compared 2D analyses to 3D finite element analyses (FEA) based on QCT data.


Two hundred thirteen women participating in the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN) received hip DXA and QCT scans. DXA BMD and femoral neck diameter and axis length were used to estimate geometry for composite bending (BSI) and compressive strength (CSI) indices. These and comparable indices computed by Hip Structure Analysis (HSA) on the same DXA data were compared to indices using QCT geometry. Simple 2D engineering simulations of a fall impacting on the greater trochanter were generated using HSA and QCT femoral neck geometry; these estimates were benchmarked to a 3D FEA of fall impact.


DXA-derived CSI and BSI computed from BMD and by HSA correlated well with each other (R = 0.92 and 0.70) and with QCT-derived indices (R = 0.83–0.85 and 0.65–0.72). The 2D strength estimate using HSA geometry correlated well with that from QCT (R = 0.76) and with the 3D FEA estimate (R = 0.56).


Femoral neck geometry computed by HSA from DXA data corresponds well enough to that from QCT for an analysis of load stress in the larger SWAN data set. Geometry derived from BMD data performed nearly as well. Proximal femur breaking strength estimated from 2D DXA data is not as well correlated with that derived by a 3D FEA using QCT data.


Bone mineral density DXA Fracture Hip Structure Analysis QCT Women