The diagnosis of osteoporosis is made from the measurement of BMD. DXA at the hip is the appropriate diagnostic site. Current clinical guidelines follow the principle that BMD measurements are indicated in individuals with risk factors for fracture and that treatment is recommended in those with a BMD below a critical value. In some countries reimbursement for the costs of treatment depend upon such thresholds for BMD. In Europe the critical value corresponds to a T-score of-2.5 SD, whereas in the USA less stringent criteria are used. It is evident, however, that fracture risk at any given T-score varies markedly according to age and other risk factors. This has led to the view that interventions should be targeted to those at high risk, irrespective of a fixed BMD threshold. In this sense, BMD is utlized as a risk assessment, since in many instances intervention thresholds will be less stringent than the diagnostic threshold. Thus, intervention thresholds need to differ from diagnostic thresholds and be based on fracture probabilities. A 10-year fracture probability appears to be an appropriate time frame. There are a number of problems to be overcome in the development of assessment guidelines. They need to take account of not only the risk of hip fracture but also that of other fractures which contribute significantly to morbidity, particularly in younger individuals. A promising approach is to weight fracture probabilities according to the disutility incurred compared with hip fracture probability. Account also needs to be taken of the large geographic variation in fracture probabilities worldwide. A further challenge for the future will be to identify risk factors that predict fracture with high validity in different regions of the world and their independent contributions, so that models of risk prediction can be constructed and ultimately validated in independent cohorts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism