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Bone breakthrough: Researchers develop ‘skeletal age’ tool to predict mortality risk after fractures

Researchers from The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) have measured the extent to which a bone fracture can result in early death and created a publicly available tool that doctors and patients can use to calculate risk. 

The research, ‘Skeletal Age’ for mapping the impact of fracture on mortality, has just been published in the distinguished scientific journal eLife.

​​​​​​​Study: ‘Skeletal Age’ for mapping the impact of fracture on mortality. ​​​​​​​Image Credit: Yok_onepiece / Shutterstock

Within the study of greater than 1.6 million adults, the scientists found that a bone fracture was related to a lack of one to seven years of life, depending on gender, age, and bone site. 

Drawing on this discovery and earlier research conducted by Professors John Eisman, Tuan Nguyen, and Jacqueline Center on the Garvan Institute, the researchers developed the concept of ‘Skeletal Age’ as a brand new measure for assessing the impact of fractures on mortality.

The metric has been incorporated into a web-based calculator that measures bone fragility so as to help doctors and patients higher understand the gravity of bone fractures.

BONEcheck goals to assist raise awareness and reduce the chance of premature death for individuals with osteoporosis. 

UTS Distinguished Professor Tuan Nguyen, the project leader, says the chance of premature death is especially high for patients that suffer a hip fracture, with 30% of patients dying inside a yr of the fracture. 

Nonetheless, the chance of premature death also increases with other kinds of fractures.

“Although a bone fracture can reduce an individual’s lifespan, patients that suffer from a fracture don’t fully understand this reality,” he said.

By measuring the typical reduction in life expectancy, the Skeletal Age tool goals to offer patients with a clearer understanding of the risks related to bone fractures. 

“With greater awareness of those risks, doctors and patients might be more prone to take preventive measures to cut back the chance of premature death,” said Distinguished Professor Nguyen.

Dr. Thach Tran, co-lead writer of the paper, said that currently, doctor-patient communication of fracture risk involves using probability. 

“A drawback of probability is that it could actually be hard to understand, with patients often perceiving a 5% risk of death following a hip fracture over a 5-year period as a 95% probability of surviving a hip fracture.”

“The Skeletal Age tool provides another approach to informing patients of their fracture risk. For instance, as a substitute of informing a 60-year-old woman that her risk of death following a hip fracture is 5%, she might be informed that her skeletal age is 65.”

Distinguished Professor Nguyen says the event of the Skeletal Age tool is a big breakthrough within the prevention of premature death related to osteoporosis.

“With this recent tool, doctors and patients can work together to cut back the chance of bone fractures and ensure higher bone health for all.” 


Journal reference:

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