There are known black-white differences in bone density measured by DXA but less is known about bone architecture. We compared cross-sectional geometric properties of the proximal femur in U.S. black (n = 86) and white (n = 151) and South African black (n = 60) and white (n = 48) postmenopausal women. Results are consistent with greater bone strength in the black groups in both countries.
Introduction: There are well-known ethnic differences in bone density, but little is known about ethnic differences in bone architecture between U.S. and South African blacks and whites.
Materials and Methods: We compared bone density and cross-sectional geometric properties of the proximal femur in 237 U.S. black (n = 86) and white (n = 151) and 108 South African black (n = 60) and white (n = 48) postmenopausal women. The proximal femur (neck, intertrochanteric region, and proximal shaft regions of interest) was measured with DXA and further analyzed with a hip structural analysis program. For each region, BMD, cross-sectional area, outer diameter, section modulus, endosteal diameter, average cortical thickness, and the buckling ratio were estimated.
Results and Conclusions: In the femoral neck, in both countries, the blacks had narrower endosteal diameters (mean difference, 2.6% and 5.1% in U.S. and South African women, respectively), thicker cortices (9.3% and 11.0%), and a lower buckling ratio (11.6% and 15.2%) despite a similar outer diameter. In the intertrochanteric region, the whites had a greater outer diameter (2.2% and 3.0% in U.S. and South African women, respectively), lower cross-sectional area (4.8% and 7.2%), and a higher buckling ratio (7.6% and 3.6%). There are fewer differences in the shaft. Compared with South African whites, U.S. whites had wider (mean difference 2.9%) femoral necks and a greater section modulus (6.4%) in the shaft. U.S. whites also had greater cross-sectional area in both the neck and shaft (5.2% and 4.6%, respectively). The U.S. blacks had significantly greater outer diameters, cross-sectional areas, endosteal diameters, and section moduli in the neck region compared with South African blacks. Our observations are consistent with greater bone strength in the black groups in both countries, and they also suggest that there are fewer differences between the same ethnic groups in the two countries than there are between different ethnic groups within a country.