Relative contributions of bone density, bone turnover, and clinical risk factors to long-term fracture prediction

L. Joseph Melton, Cynthia S. Crowson, W. Michael O'Fallon, Heinz W. Wahner, B. Lawrence Riggs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


Long-term fracture prediction using bone mineral density remains controversial, as does the additional contribution from assessing bone turnover or clinical risk factors. We measured bone mineral density at various sites, along with biochemical markers of bone turnover, sex steroid levels, and over 100 clinical variables, at baseline on an age-stratified sample of 304 Rochester, MN women in 1980. The 225 postmenopausal women were subsequently followed for 3146 person-years (median, 16.2 years per subject), wherein they experienced 302 new fractures: 81% resulted from minimal or moderate trauma and 60% of these involved the proximal femur, thoracic or lumbar vertebrae, or distal forearm. Accounting for multiple fractures per subject, these osteoporotic fractures together were best predicted by baseline femoral neck bone mineral density (age-adjusted hazard ratio [HR] per SD decrease, 1.37; 95% CI, 1.10-1.70); 19 moderate trauma forearm fractures were best predicted by distal radius bone mineral content, whereas 28 hip fractures and 100 vertebral fractures were best predicted by femoral neck bone mineral density. Femoral neck bone mineral density performed comparably in predicting osteoporotic fracture risk within the first decade of follow-up (HR, 1.38; 95% CI, 1.10-1.74) as well as more than 10 years after baseline (HR, 1.39; 95% CI, 1.05-1.84). The older biochemical markers were not associated with fractures, but serum "free" estradiol index was independently predictive of short- and long-term fracture risk. Consistent clinical risk factors were not identified, but statistical power was limited. Identifying patients at increased long-term risk of fracture is challenging, but it is reassuring that femoral neck bone mineral density can predict osteoporotic fractures up to 20 years later.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)312-318
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Bone and Mineral Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2003


  • Cohort study
  • Epidemiology
  • Fractures
  • Osteoporosis
  • Population-based

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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