Researchers develop a ‘skeletal age’ tool to predict risk of death after fractures


Researchers from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) have measured the extent to which a broken bone can lead to premature death and have created a publicly available tool that doctors and patients can use to calculate risk.

search, “Skeletal age” to map the effect of fracture on mortalityhas just been published in the prestigious scientific journal eLife.

​​​​​​​​Stady: ‘Skeletal age mapping the effect of fracture on mortality. Image credit: Yok_onepiece/Shutterstock

In a study of more than 1.6 million adults, scientists found that a broken bone is associated with a loss of between one and seven years of life, depending on gender, age, and the location of the bones.

Building on this discovery and previous research conducted by Professors John Eiseman, Tuan Nguyen, and the Jacqueline Center at the Garvan Institute, the researchers developed the concept of “skeletal age” as a new measure for assessing the impact of fractures on mortality.

The scale has been integrated into an online osteoporosis calculator to help doctors and patients better understand the severity of bone fractures.

Bone examination It aims to help raise awareness and reduce the risk of premature death for people with osteoporosis.

Distinguished Professor Tuan Nguyen, head of the project, says the risk of premature death is particularly high for patients with a hip fracture, with 30% of patients dying within a year of fracture.

However, the risk of premature death also increases with other types of fractures.

“Although a broken bone can shorten a person’s lifespan, patients with a broken bone do not fully understand this fact,” he said.

By measuring the average decrease in life expectancy, the Skeletal Age tool aims to provide patients with a clearer understanding of the risks associated with bone fractures.

“As awareness of these risks increases, clinicians and patients are more likely to take preventative measures to reduce the risk of premature death,” said the eminent Professor Nguyen.

Dr. Thatch Tran, co-lead author of the paper, said that communication between doctor and patient about fracture risk currently involves the use of probabilities.

“A disadvantage of probability is that it can be difficult to understand, as patients often perceive a 5% risk of death after a hip fracture over 5 years as a 95% chance of surviving a hip fracture.”

“The Skeletal Age tool provides an alternative approach to informing patients of their fracture risk. For example, instead of telling a 60-year-old woman that her risk of death after a hip fracture is 5%, she could be informed that her skeletal age is 65.”

Distinguished Professor Nguyen says the development of the Skeletal Age tool is a major advance in preventing premature death associated with osteoporosis.

“With this new tool, clinicians and patients can work together to reduce the risk of bone fractures and ensure better bone health for everyone.”


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