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Keywords:

  • DISTAL FOREARM FRACTURE;
  • RISK ASSESSMENT;
  • BONE MICROSTRUCTURE;
  • NONLINEAR MICRO-FINITE ELEMENT ANALYSIS;
  • HIGH-RESOLUTION PERIPHERAL QUANTITATIVE COMPUTED TOMOGRAPHY

ABSTRACT

More accurate techniques to estimate fracture risk could help reduce the burden of fractures in postmenopausal women. Although micro-finite element (µFE) simulations allow a direct assessment of bone mechanical performance, in this first clinical study we investigated whether the additional information obtained using geometrically and materially nonlinear µFE simulations allows a better discrimination between fracture cases and controls. We used patient data and high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography (HRpQCT) measurements from our previous clinical study on fracture risk, which compared 100 postmenopausal women with a distal forearm fracture to 105 controls. Analyzing these data with the nonlinear µFE simulations, the odds ratio (OR) for the factor-of-risk (yield load divided by the expected fall load) was marginally higher (1.99; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.41–2.77) than for the factor-of-risk computed from linear µFE (1.89; 95% CI, 1.37–2.69). The yield load and the energy absorbed up to the yield point as computed from nonlinear µFE were highly correlated with the initial stiffness (R2 = 0.97 and 0.94, respectively) and could therefore be derived from linear simulations with little loss in precision. However, yield deformation was not related to any other measurement performed and was itself a good predictor of fracture risk (OR, 1.89; 95% CI, 1.39–2.63). Moreover, a combined risk score integrating information on relative bone strength (yield load-based factor-of-risk), bone ductility (yield deformation), and the structural integrity of the bone under critical loads (cortical plastic volume) improved the separation of cases and controls by one-third (OR, 2.66; 95% CI, 1.84–4.02). We therefore conclude that nonlinear µFE simulations provide important additional information on the risk of distal forearm fractures not accessible from linear µFE nor from other techniques assessing bone microstructure, density, or mass. © 2013 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.