Osteoporosis International

, Volume 24, Issue 5, pp 1733–1740 | Cite as

Women with previous fragility fractures can be classified based on bone microarchitecture and finite element analysis measured with HR-pQCT

  • K. K. Nishiyama
  • H. M. Macdonald
  • D. A. Hanley
  • S. K. BoydEmail author
Original Article



High-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography (HR-pQCT) measurements of distal radius and tibia bone microarchitecture and finite element (FE) estimates of bone strength performed well at classifying postmenopausal women with and without previous fracture. The HR-pQCT measurements outperformed dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) at classifying forearm fractures and fractures at other skeletal sites.


Areal bone mineral density (aBMD) is the primary measurement used to assess osteoporosis and fracture risk; however, it does not take into account bone microarchitecture, which also contributes to bone strength. Thus, our objective was to determine if bone microarchitecture measured with HR-pQCT and FE estimates of bone strength could classify women with and without low-trauma fractures.


We used HR-pQCT to assess bone microarchitecture at the distal radius and tibia in 44 postmenopausal women with a history of low-trauma fracture and 88 age-matched controls from the Calgary cohort of the Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study (CaMos) study. We estimated bone strength using FE analysis and simulated distal radius aBMD from the HR-pQCT scans. Femoral neck (FN) and lumbar spine (LS) aBMD were measured with DXA. We used support vector machines (SVM) and a tenfold cross-validation to classify the fracture cases and controls and to determine accuracy.


The combination of HR-pQCT measures of microarchitecture and FE estimates of bone strength had the highest area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve of 0.82 when classifying forearm fractures compared to an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.71 from DXA-derived aBMD of the forearm and 0.63 from FN and spine DXA. For all fracture types, FE estimates of bone strength at the forearm alone resulted in an AUC of 0.69.


Models based on HR-pQCT measurements of bone microarchitecture and estimates of bone strength performed better than DXA-derived aBMD at classifying women with and without prior fracture. In future, these models may improve prediction of individuals at risk of low-trauma fracture.


Bone microarchitecture Finite element analysis Fracture HR-pQCT Support vector machines 



We wish to acknowledge the ongoing efforts of the national Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study (CaMos). We would also like to thank Ms. Irene Hanley and Ms. Shannon Boucousis for their assistance with scan acquisition and Ms. Jane Allan and Ms. Bernice Love for their assistance with participant recruitment. We are grateful to all of the participants who volunteered for the study.

Sources of funding

This study was supported by Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships.

Conflicts of interest



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Copyright information

© International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. K. Nishiyama
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • H. M. Macdonald
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
  • D. A. Hanley
    • 3
    • 7
  • S. K. Boyd
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 7
    • 8
    Email author
  1. 1.Schulich School of EngineeringUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  2. 2.Roger Jackson Centre for Health and Wellness ResearchUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  3. 3.McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint HealthCalgaryCanada
  4. 4.Department of OrthopedicsUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  5. 5.Child and Family Research InstituteVancouverCanada
  6. 6.Centre for Hip Health and MobilityVancouverCanada
  7. 7.Faculty of MedicineUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  8. 8.Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing EngineeringUniversity of CalgaryN.W. CalgaryCanada

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