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Abstract

The epidemiologic patterns of vertebral and femoral fractures are sufficiently different to suggest that they represent distinct disorders (type I versus type II osteoporosis) although osteopenia is common in both. To determine whether differences in femoral geometry, one of the main determinants of bone quality, might contribute to the heterogeneity in osteoporotic fractures, we obtained dual energy X-ray absorptiometry scans on 210 women age 60 or older, including 105 type 1 fracture cases, 30 type II patients, and 75 controls. Hip axis length, measured on the scan printout, was significantly increased (p < 0.01) in hip fracture patients compared with women with postmenopausal osteoporosis, whereas femoral neck density (BMD) was equal in both groups. The best discrimination between both fracture types was obtained by a logistic regression model based on age and axis length. Adding BMD to the model did not improve the discriminative power (p = 0.67). These data provide further evidence that geometric characteristics may be implicated in hip fracture risk. Furthermore, these findings suggest that an increase in hip axis length may predispose osteopenic subjects to a femoral localization of fragility fractures, consistent with the postulated heterogeneity in the pathogenesis of osteoporotic fractures.