Prevention of osteoporotic hip fractures: Linking novel clinical imaging tools to laboratory measures of bone strength

Osteoporotic fractures among the elderly are a growing public health burden worldwide. Osteoporotic fractures are associated with a high incidence of disease and disability, and high risk for long term institutionalization. They also add substantial costs to the healthcare system. The main factors that cause hip fracture include experiencing a fall, loss of protective mechanisms and reduced bone strength. Integrated methods and tools for improving prevention strategies are therefore crucially needed. Dr. Saija Kontulainen is utilizing state-of-the-art imaging tools to better detect individuals at high risk for osteoporotic fracture. She is investigating whether these new tools can more accurately measure bone size and structure than the most common diagnostic procedure, bone density testing. The current procedure measures the amount of mineral in bones and is not potent to predict fracture risk of an individual. Saija is determining if the new imaging tools can identify which bone properties are key factors in hip fracture. The tools could also be used to monitor the effectiveness of bone therapies involving medication, nutritional supplements and exercise.