With the prevalent use of DXA-measured BMD to assess pathologic hip fractures and its recently reported lack of reliability to predict fracture or account for efficacy of anti-resorptive therapy, it is reasonable to assess whether variations in the primary and secondary tensile and compressive trabecular microstructure can account for variations in proximal femur strength in comparison to DXA-measured BMD. To that end, microstructural and densitometric measures of trabecular bone specimens, from discrete sites within the proximal femur, were correlated with their mechanical properties. We hypothesize that accounting for regional variations in trabecular microstructure will improve predictions of proximal femur strength and stiffness compared to bone density measured by DXA. Forty-seven samples (seven donors) from seven distinct sites of human proximal femur underwent DXA and μCT imaging and mechanical testing. The results revealed significant variations in BMC, morphometric indices and mechanical properties within the proximal femur. This work has demonstrated that the mechanical performance of each sub-region is highly dependent on the corresponding trabecular microstructure. BMD measured by DXA at standard regions of interest cannot resolve the variations in trabecular density and microstructure that govern the mechanical behavior of the proximal femur. This work suggests that a quantitative Singh index that uses high resolution QCT to monitor the trabecular microstructure at specific sub-regions of the proximal femur may allow better predictions of hip fracture risk in individual patients and an improved assessment of changing bone structure in response to pharmacological interventions.
Cancellous bone; Proximal femur; Mechanical properties; Morphometric indices; Variation