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CT Scans Can Pinpoint Patients with High Risk of Fracture

A new retrospective cohort study indicates that for patients over 65 years, taking a simple measurement of bone quality during routine CT scans of the chest or abdomen may help identify those at high risk for fragility fracture over approximately 6 years of follow-up.

“Previous work has shown that lumbar trabecular attenuation values generally correlate with T-scores from dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), the current gold standard for diagnosing low bone mineral density,” said Scott Lee, MD, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, and colleagues wrote in their February 5 article in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

CT Scan of pelvic fracture
Pelvic Fracture

He added, “With further work, this simple measure could be utilized to calculate 10-year major osteoporotic fracture and hip fracture risk and subsequently be included as an input variable into the Fracture Risk Assessment (FRAX) tool.”

CT scans are commonly performed in older adults for a wide variety of reasons. The rich bone data embedded in these scans if often ignored, but can and should be harnessed for opportunistic screening for fracture risk,” said senior author Perry J Pickhardt, MD, also of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine & Public Health, in a press release.


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