Monitoring skeletal response to treatment: Which site to measure in the femur?

G M Blake, N G Preston, R Patel, R J M Herd, I Fogelman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


In the past it was usual to interpret bone mineral density (BMD) scans of the femur using the femoral neck, trochanter; or Ward's triangle sites. Recently, a report by the International Committee for Standards in Bone Measurement recommended that the total hip should be the preferred site for the interpretation of femur BMD, and another study described a new central hip site that may offer improved precision. This article compares the longitudinal sensitivities of the different femur BMD sites for monitoring patient response to treatment. The study population was 152 postmenopausal women enrolled in a trial of a bisphosphonate therapy. Spine and hip BMD scans were performed at 0, 1, and 2 yr. The mean percentage change at 2 yr was calculated for six sites ill the hip, and the spine was also included for comparison. Treatment effect was defined as the difference in the BMD change between the treated and placebo groups. Although the data analysis incorporated a term fur a calibration change caused by a repair of the dual X-ray absorptiometry scanner, the effect of this event on the estimation of treatment effect was negligible. Longitudinal sensitivity was derived by dividing the treatment effect by the root mean square error (RMSE) of the statistical model. Results (and standard errors) normalized to the ratio of treatment effect: RMSE for femoral neck BMD were as follows: femoral neck: 1.00; trochanter: 1.33 (0.38); intertrochanteric: 0.84 (0.41); total hip: 1.20 (0.38); Ward's triangle: 1.03 (0.27); central hip: 1.09 (0.30); spine: 2.08 (0.45). At none of the femur sites was the change in BMD large enough to allow monitoring of response to treatment in individual patients. However, for studies involving the follow-up of a group of subjects, the longitudinal sensitivities of the different femur sites were equal within the statistical errors of the study. In particular, total hip BMD appears to be as effective as femoral neck BMD for detecting response to treatment in the femur in the setting of a clinical trial or similar research study.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149 - 155
Number of pages7
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2000


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