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Fracture Risk Assessment: An Update

Andrew J Cozadd 1Lisa K Schroder 2 3Julie A Switzer 2 3

J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2021 Apr 8.doi: 10.2106/JBJS.20.01071. 


Our ability to accurately identify high fracture risk in individuals has improved as the volume of clinical data has expanded and fracture risk assessment tools have been developed.

Given its accessibility, affordability, and low radiation exposure, dual x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) remains the standard for osteoporosis screening and monitoring response to treatment.

The trabecular bone score (TBS) is a DXA software add-on that uses lumbar spine DXA imaging to produce an output that correlates with bone microarchitecture. It has been identified as an independent fracture risk factor and may prove useful in further stratifying fracture risk among those with a bone mineral density (BMD) in the osteopenic range (-1.0 to -2.4 standard deviations), in those with low-energy fractures but normal or only mildly low BMD, or in those with conditions known to impair bone microarchitecture.

Fracture risk assessment tools, including the Fracture Risk Assessment Tool (FRAX), Garvan fracture risk calculator, and QFracture, evaluate the impact of multiple clinical factors on fracture risk, even in the absence of BMD data. Each produces an absolute fracture risk output over a defined interval of time. When used appropriately, these enhance our ability to identify high-risk patients and allow us to differentiate fracture risk among patients who present with similar BMDs.

For challenging clinical cases, a combined approach is likely to improve accuracy in the identification of high-risk patients who would benefit from the available osteoporosis therapies.