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Peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT) captures novel aspects of bone geometry that may contribute to fracture risk and offers the ability to measure both volumetric bone mineral density (vBMD) and a separation of trabecular and cortical compartments of bone, but longitudinal data relating measures obtained from this technique to incident fractures are lacking. Here we report an analysis from the Hertfordshire Cohort Study, where we were able to study associations between measures obtained from pQCT and DXA in 182 men and 202 women aged 60-75 years at baseline with incident fractures over 6 years later. Among women, radial cortical thickness (HR 1.72, 95% CI 1.16, 2.54, p=0.007) and cortical area (HR 1.91, 95% CI 1.27, 2.85, p=0.002) at the 66% slice were both associated with incident fractures; these results remained significant after adjustment for confounders (age, BMI, social class, cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption, physical activity, dietary calcium, HRT and years since menopause). Further adjustment for aBMD made a little difference to the results. At the tibia, cortical area (HR 1.58, 95% CI 1.10, 2.28, p=0.01), thickness (HR 1.49, 95% CI 1.08, 2.07, p=0.02) and density (HR 1.64, 95% CI 1.18, 2.26, p=0.003) at the 38% site were all associated with incident fractures with the cortical area and density relationships remaining robust to adjustment for the confounders listed above. Further adjustment for aBMD at this site did lead to attenuation of relationships. Among men, tibial stress-strain index (SSI) was predictive of incident fractures (HR 2.30, 95% CI 1.28, 4.13, p=0.005). Adjustment for confounding variables and aBMD did not render this association non-significant. In conclusion, we have demonstrated relationships between measures of bone size, density and strength obtained by pQCT and incident fracture. These relationships were attenuated but in some cases remained significant after adjustment for BMD measures obtained by DXA, suggesting that some additional information may be conferred by this assessment.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





13 - 17


Bone, Epidemiology, Fracture, Adult, Cohort Studies, Female, Fractures, Bone, Humans, Male, Risk Factors, Tomography, X-Ray Computed, United Kingdom