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Formula Predicts Osteoporotic Fracture Risk

A new study in the October issue of Radiology says that a mathematical formula can predict the risk of osteoporotic fractures in women with 75 percent accuracy.// Researchers say this will allow doctors to formulate a treatment plan accordingly.

"Approximately 45 percent of women have different levels of bone mineral density between their hip and their spine, leading to uncertainty as to how physicians should assess their future fracture risk," said the study's lead author, Margaret Joy Henry, B.Sc(Hons)., Ph.D., statistician in the Department of Clinical and Biomedical Sciences at The University of Melbourne, Australia. "We have derived an equation that successfully predicted 75 percent of fractures in women, two years after their initial measurements were taken."

Women with osteoporosis have brittle bones that are more likely to break as a result of a minor bump or fall. Bones affected by osteoporosis are less dense than normal bones, due to larger pores in the bone, reduced calcium levels and fewer blood vessels.

The equation developed by Dr. Henry and colleagues takes into account a variety of risk factors, not just bone mineral density. A patient's likelihood of falling, low bone mass, excess or low body weight and additional factors are combined into a single formula that can indicate to a physician how serious a woman's fracture risk may be. Treatment strategies may then be targeted on the basis of a woman's predicted outcome.

A total of 231 elderly women who had sustained a low-trauma fracture of the hip, spine, humerus or forearm during a two-year period were recruited, as well as 448 elderly women who were selected randomly and had not sustained a fracture during the same two-year period.

The equation was developed based on measurements obtained in this study population. It was then tested in a third group of women from the community, who were randomly selected to be followed for a six-year period to
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