Predicting fracture using 2D finite element modelling
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A decrease in bone density at the hip or spine has been shown to increase the risk of fracture. A limitation of the bone mineral density (BMD) measurement is that it provides only a measure of a bone sample's average density when projected onto a 2D surface. Effectively, what determines bone fracture is whether an applied load exceeds ultimate strength, with both bone tissue material properties (can be approximated through bone density), and geometry playing a role. The goal of this project was to use bone geometry and BMD obtained from radiographs and DXA measurements respectively to estimate fracture risk, using a two-dimensional finite element model (FEM) of the sagittal plane of lumbar vertebrae. The Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study (CaMos) data was used for this study. There were 4194 men and women over the age of 50 years, with 786 having fractures. Each subject had BMD testing and radiographs of their lumbar vertebrae. A single two dimensional FEM of the first to fourth lumbar vertebra was automatically generated for each subject. Bone tissue stiffness was assigned based on the BMD of the individual vertebrae, and adjusted for patient age. Axial compression boundary conditions were applied with a force proportional to body mass. The resulting overall strain from the applied force was found. Men and women were analyzed separately. At baseline, the sensitivity of BMD to predict fragility fractures in women and men was 3.77% and 0.86%, while the sensitivity of FEM to predict fragility fractures for women and men was 10.8% and 11.3%. The FEM ROC curve demonstrated better performance compared to BMD. The relative risk of being considered at high fracture risk using FEM at baseline, was a better predictor of 5 year incident fragility fracture risk compared to BMD.
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