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Scientists Examine Bone Architecture to Determine Osteoporosis Fracture Risk

Update Date: Nov 24, 2012 11:43 AM EST

"Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens bones, increasing the risk of sudden and unexpected fractures. Literally meaning "porous bone," it results in an increased loss of bone mass and strength. The disease often progresses without any symptoms or pain," according to Cleveland clinic.org.

The disease is usually not detected easily and in most cases is discovered only after weakened bones cause painful fractures. Also, once a person suffers an osteoporotic fracture, he/she becomes more likely to suffer another one.

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A new study by researchers at the University of Calgary may hopefully be helpful in predicting which osteoporosis patients are more likely to fracture their bones. This information will help doctors decide which patients may need pharmaceutical or lifestyle interventions.

For the study, the researchers used a high resolution computed tomography (micro-CT) scanner to analyze the architecture of the bone. They scanned the wrists of 44 women with a history of low-trauma fracture and also 88 other women around the same age with no such history. The researchers found that the machine was helpful in identifying bone micro-architecture, density and strength information and hence could be a useful prediction tool, the report said.

"Currently, it's hard to determine who needs a medical intervention for osteoporosis. This new assessment tool may provide us with information to help us make better decisions," says study author Steven Boyd, PhD, from the University of Calgary, and the inaugural Bob and Nola Rintoul Chair in Bone and Joint Research.

"Steven Boyd is an outstanding young investigator whose pioneering work in this field has allowed us to assess a patient's bone strength without having to undergo a more invasive procedure like a bone biopsy," says Dr. David Hanley from the University of Calgary's McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health, and study author.

The study was published in the November online edition of Osteoporosis International.

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