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Osteoporosis is a major healthcare problem which is conventionally assessed by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). New technologies such as high resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography (HRpQCT) also predict fracture risk. HRpQCT measures a number of bone characteristics that may inform specific patterns of bone deficits. We used cluster analysis to define different bone phenotypes and their relationships to fracture prevalence and areal bone mineral density (BMD). 177 men and 159 women, in whom fracture history was determined by self-report and vertebral fracture assessment, underwent HRpQCT of the distal radius and femoral neck DXA. Five clusters were derived with two clusters associated with elevated fracture risk. "Cluster 1" contained 26 women (50.0% fractured) and 30 men (50.0% fractured) with a lower mean cortical thickness and cortical volumetric BMD, and in men only, a mean total and trabecular area more than the sex-specific cohort mean. "Cluster 2" contained 20 women (50.0% fractured) and 14 men (35.7% fractured) with a lower mean trabecular density and trabecular number than the sex-specific cohort mean. Logistic regression showed fracture rates in these clusters to be significantly higher than the lowest fracture risk cluster [5] (p<0.05). Mean femoral neck areal BMD was significantly lower than cluster 5 in women in cluster 1 and 2 (p<0.001 for both), and in men, in cluster 2 (p<0.001) but not 1 (p=0.220). In conclusion, this study demonstrates two distinct high risk clusters in both men and women which may differ in etiology and response to treatment. As cluster 1 in men does not have low areal BMD, these men may not be identified as high risk by conventional DXA alone.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





131 - 137


Bone QCT, DXA, Epidemiology, Fracture risk assessment, Osteoporosis, Absorptiometry, Photon, Aged, Bone and Bones, Cluster Analysis, Demography, Female, Fractures, Bone, Humans, Life Style, Male, Odds Ratio, Phenotype, Risk Factors, Tomography, X-Ray Computed