Change in Bone Mineral Density Is an Indicator of Treatment-Related Antifracture Effect in Routine Clinical Practice: A Registry-Based Cohort Study

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Whether change in bone mineral density (BMD) is an accurate indicator of antifracture effect in clinical practice is unknown.


To evaluate repeated BMD testing as an indicator of treatment-related fracture risk reduction.


Registry-based cohort study.


Manitoba, Canada.


6629 women aged 40 years or older initiating osteoporosis treatment with 2 consecutive dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry scans (mean interval, 4.5 years).


Change in BMD between the first and second dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry scans categorized as stable, detectable decrease, or detectable increase. Incident fractures were ascertained from health services data.


During a mean of 9.2 years, 910 (13.7%) women developed incident fractures, including 198 with hip fractures. After adjustment for baseline fracture probability, women with a detectable decrease in total hip BMD compared with stable BMD had an absolute increase of 2.9% (95% CI, 1.5% to 4.4%) and 5.5% (CI, 2.8% to 8.1%) in the 5- and 10-year cumulative incidence of any fracture, respectively. In contrast, risk for any fracture in women with a detectable increase in total hip BMD was 1.3% (CI, 0.4% to 2.2%) and 2.6% (CI, 0.7% to 4.5%) lower after 5 and 10 years, respectively. Consistent results were seen for change in femoral neck and lumbar spine BMD and across a range of subgroup analyses.


Lack of standardization in the BMD testing interval.


Treatment-related increases in total hip BMD are associated with reduced fracture risk compared with stable BMD, whereas decreases in BMD are associated with greater risk for fractures. Monitoring BMD in clinical practice may help to identify women with a suboptimal response to osteoporosis treatment.

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