Osteoporosis is a serious health concern affecting millions of Americans, with many patients going undiagnosed and untreated. Fractures due to osteoporosis and fracture-related complications are the most clinically relevant and costly consequences of this disorder. The Fracture Risk Assessment Tool (FRAX®), released by the World Health Organization (WHO) in February 2008, is a major achievement in helping determine which patients may be candidates for pharmacological therapy for osteoporosis. This Web-based algorithm, which has been incorporated into some dual x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) reporting software, calculates the 10-year probability of major osteoporotic fracture (clinical vertebral, hip, forearm, or humerus) and the 10-year probability of hip fracture in men and women based on easily obtained clinical risk factors and bone mineral density (BMD) of the femoral neck (optional). The National Osteoporosis Foundation updated its U.S. guidelines in February 2008 to incorporate FRAX and recommends that all postmenopausal women and men aged ≥50 years with a hip or vertebral fracture, a T-score ≤-2.5 at the femoral neck or spine (excluding secondary causes), or low bone mass (T-score between -1.0 and -2.5) and a 10-year probability of hip fracture ≥3% or of major osteoporosis-related fracture ≥20% (based on FRAX) should be considered candidates for drug therapy. Despite its demonstrated clinical utility, FRAX has limitations and should not be used in all situations. Acceptance and clinical use of FRAX may help identify men and women at increased risk for osteoporotic fracture, but implementing the tool into clinical practice may be a challenge for busy physicians.
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