Finite Element Analysis Based on In Vivo HR-pQCT Images of the Distal Radius Is Associated With Wrist Fracture in Postmenopausal Women



BMD, bone microarchitecture, and bone mechanical properties assessed in vivo by finite element analysis were associated with wrist fracture in postmenopausal women.

Introduction: Many fractures occur in individuals with normal BMD. Assessment of bone mechanical properties by finite element analysis (FEA) may improve identification of those at high risk for fracture.

Materials and Methods: We used HR-pQCT to assess volumetric bone density, microarchitecture, and μFE-derived bone mechanical properties at the radius in 33 postmenopausal women with a prior history of fragility wrist fracture and 33 age-matched controls from the OFELY cohort. Radius areal BMD (aBMD) was also measured by DXA. Associations between density, microarchitecture, mechanical parameters and fracture status were evaluated by univariate logistic regression analysis and expressed as ORs (with 95% CIs) per SD change. We also conducted a principal components (PCs) analysis (PCA) to reduce the number of parameters and study their association (OR) with wrist fracture.

Results: Areal and volumetric densities, cortical thickness, trabecular number, and mechanical parameters such as estimated failure load, stiffness, and the proportion of load carried by the trabecular bone at the distal and proximal sites were associated with wrist fracture (p < 0.05). The PCA revealed five independent components that jointly explained 86.2% of the total variability of bone characteristics. The first PC included FE-estimated failure load, areal and volumetric BMD, and cortical thickness, explaining 51% of the variance with an OR for wrist fracture = 2.49 (95% CI, 1.32–4.72). Remaining PCs did not include any density parameters. The second PC included trabecular architecture, explaining 12% of the variance, with an OR = 1.82 (95% CI, 0.94–3.52). The third PC included the proportion of the load carried by cortical versus trabecular bone, assessed by FEA, explaining 9% of the variance, and had an OR = 1.61 (95% CI, 0.94–2.77). Thus, the proportion of load carried by cortical versus trabecular bone seems to be associated with wrist fracture independently of BMD and microarchitecture (included in the first and second PC, respectively).

Conclusions: These results suggest that bone mechanical properties assessed by μFE may provide information about skeletal fragility and fracture risk not assessed by BMD or architecture measurements alone and are therefore likely to enhance the prediction of wrist fracture risk.