This National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guideline covers assessing the risk of fragility fracture in people aged 18 and over with osteoporosis. It aims to provide guidance on the selection and use of risk assessment tools in the care of adults at risk of fragility fractures in all NHS settings.
Fragility fractures are fractures that result from mechanical forces that would not ordinarily result in fracture, known as low-level (or 'low energy') trauma. The World Health Organization (WHO) has quantified this as forces equivalent to a fall from a standing height or less.
Reduced bone density is a major risk factor for fragility fracture. Other factors that may affect the risk of fragility fracture include:
Because of increased bone loss after the menopause in women, and age-related bone loss in both women and men, the prevalence of osteoporosis increases markedly with age, from 2% at 50 years to more than 25% at 80 years in women. As the longevity of the population increases, so will the incidence of osteoporosis and fragility fracture.
There are a number of therapies and treatments available for the prevention of fragility fractures in people who are thought to be at risk, or to prevent further fractures in those who have already had one or more fragility fractures. However, identifying who will benefit from preventative treatment is imprecise.
A number of risk assessment tools are available to predict fracture incidence over a period of time, and these may be used to aid decision-making. These tools are limited in that they may not include all risk factors, or may lack details of some risk factors. Tools are dependent on the accuracy of the epidemiological data used to derive them and tools validated in other populations may not apply to the UK.
Two tools, FRAX and QFracture, are available for use in the UK. It is not clear whether these tools are equally accurate and whether choice of tool should depend on circumstances. This short clinical guideline aims to provide guidance on the selection and use of risk assessment tools in the care of people who may be at risk of fragility fractures in all settings in which NHS care is received.
You can read the guideline on NICE's website.