Hip Fracture Risk and Proximal Femur Geometry from DXA Scans
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In this retrospective study of hip fracture risk evaluation from hip dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans, our objectives were to determine which part of the femoral neck length contributes most to the fracture risk and to define a geometric parameter better than hip axis length (HAL) for discriminating hip fracture patients. Forty-nine Caucasian women with a nontraumatic femoral neck fracture were matched on age to 49 normal women and on both age and femoral neck bone mineral density (BMD) to 49 unfractured women. In addition to BMD, geometric parameters including neck–shaft angle, neck width and several HAL segments were evaluated by discriminant analysis to determine which was the best hip fracture discriminator. Neck–shaft angle had a limited influence on the hip fracture risk. Age-related bone loss was associated with a neck width increase in unfractured and fractured patients. HAL was significantly longer in fractured patients and was a significant discriminator between fractured patients and normal controls. HAL was not significant as a discriminator between fractured and low-BMD unfractured patients. The intertrochanter–head center distance (from the intertrochanteric line to the femoral head center) coincides with the femoral lever arm and includes no segments that adapt to BMD changes, such as the greater trochanter–intertrochanter distance. Among all tested lengths, this segment was the part of HAL that discriminated best between fractured and low-BMD unfractured patients. A longer intertrochanter–head center distance increased the risk of femoral neck fracture among low-BMD patients. Including automatic measurement of this segment in standard DXA protocols may prove useful in identifying patients at high risk for hip fracture. At present, HAL remains the easier neck length to measure, but automatic evaluation of the intertrochanter–head center distance must be a goal for future image analysis development.
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