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Utility of Distal Forearm DXA as a Screening Tool for Primary Osteoporotic Fragility Fractures of the Distal Radius: A Case-Control Study

Miyamura S1,2Kuriyama K3,4Ebina K1Oka K1Kashii M3Shigi A5Tanaka H1Hirao M1Yoshikawa H3Murase T1.

JB JS Open Access. 2020 Jan 6;5(1):e0036. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.OA.19.00036. eCollection 2020 Jan-Mar.




Osteoporotic fragility fractures frequently occur at the distal part of the radius. This suggests that initial osteoporosis evaluation at this site may inform screening and treatment to prevent additional fractures. The purpose of this study was to investigate the utility of distal forearm dual x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) as a screening tool to assess the risk of fragility fractures at the distal part of the radius.


This retrospective, case-control study included postmenopausal women who had sustained a distal radial fracture (fracture group, n = 110) and postmenopausal women with no history of fracture (control group, n = 95). DXA measurements at the spine, hip, and distal part of the forearm (ultra-distal, mid-distal, and one-third distal sections) were compared between the groups on the basis of bone mineral density (BMD), T-score, and the proportion of patients with a T-score of ≤-2.5 standard deviations (SD). We also investigated the regional differences on the basis of T-score among the skeletal sites. Furthermore, the reliability of distal forearm DXA measurements was validated by assessing the statistical correlation (r) with volumetric BMD by computed tomography (CT).


Compared with the control group, the fracture group showed significantly lower BMD and T-scores and higher proportions of patients with a T-score of ≤-2.5 SD at the ultra-distal, mid-distal, and one-third distal forearm; however, the spine and hip measurements did not differ significantly between the 2 groups. With respect to regional differences, in the fracture group, T-scores were significantly lower and the proportions of patients with a T-score of ≤-2.5 SD were significantly higher for the 3 distal forearm sites compared with the spine and hip. DXA measurements at all 3 of the distal forearm regions exhibited high correlation with volumetric BMD by CT (r = 0.83 to 0.92).


Some postmenopausal women were found to exhibit bone loss preferentially at the distal part of the radius, which may render them vulnerable to fragility fractures. Forearm DXA for the assessment of local bone loss may demonstrate benefit in screening for those at risk for distal radial fractures and facilitate the early identification of patients who require intervention for osteoporosis.


Prognostic Level III. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.