Digital wrist tomosynthesis (DWT)-based finite element analysis of ultra-distal radius differentiates patients with and without a history of osteoporotic fracture

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Despite effective therapies for those at risk of osteoporotic fracture, low adherence to screening guidelines and limited accuracy of bone mineral density (BMD) in predicting fracture risk preclude identification of those at risk. Because of high adherence to routine mammography, bone health screening at the time of mammography using a digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) scanner has been suggested as a potential solution. BMD and bone microstructure can be measured from the wrist using a DBT scanner. However, the extent to which biomechanical variables can be derived from digital wrist tomosynthesis (DWT) has not been explored. Accordingly, we measured stiffness from a DWT based finite element (DWT-FE) model of the ultra-distal (UD) radius and ulna, and correlate these to reference microcomputed tomography image based FE (μCT-FE) from five cadaveric forearms. Further, this method is implemented to determine in vivo reproducibility of FE derived stiffness of UD radius and demonstrate the in vivo utility of DWT-FE in bone quality assessment by comparing two groups of postmenopausal women with and without a history of an osteoporotic fracture (Fx; n = 15, NFx; n = 51). Stiffness obtained from DWT and μCT had a strong correlation (R(2) = 0.87, p < 0.001). In vivo repeatability error was <5 %. The NFx and Fx groups were not significantly different in DXA derived minimum T-scores (p > 0.3), but stiffness of the UD radius was lower for the Fx group (p < 0.007). Logistic regression models of fracture status with stiffness of the nondominant arm as the predictor were significant (p < 0.01). In conclusion this study demonstrates the feasibility of fracture risk assessment in mammography settings using DWT imaging and FE modeling in vivo. Using this approach, bone and breast screening can be performed in a single visit, with the potential to improve both the prevalence of bone health screening and the accuracy of fracture risk assessment.

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