Mapping translational research into individualized prognosis of fracture risk


: Dr Tuan V. Nguyen, Bone and Mineral Research Program, Garvan Institute of Medical Research, 384 Victoria Street, Sydney, Australia. Email:


The assessment of fracture risk has until now been based on the measurement of bone mineral density (BMD) and/or a prior fracture. Individuals with BMD T-scores < –2.5 (e.g. osteoporosis) or with prior fractures are indicated for treatment. However, recent data have suggested that 55% of women and 74% of men who sustained a fracture did not have osteoporosis. Therefore, the current strategy reduces a small number of fractures in the general population, and new thinking is required for that majority of individuals whose BMD measurements are at or near (both sides) the current threshold of osteoporosis. An individual's absolute risk of fracture can be estimated from the individual risk profile, which includes age, BMD, weight or body mass index, prior fracture, comorbidities, corticosteroid use, lifestyle factors, and falls. Therefore, risk assessment must simultaneously consider all risk factors to which the individual is exposed. A number of prognostic models and predictive nomograms have been developed to estimate an individual's absolute risk of fracture, but they have not been externally validated. Nevertheless, these prognostic models can be effective tools for individualizing short-term and long-term risks of fracture, which can help patient counseling and selecting appropriate patients for intervention to maximize the benefit of fracture reduction in the general population.