What is the role of finite element analysis (FEA) in the workup of osteoporosis?

Updated: Jan 20, 2021
  • Author: Rachel Elizabeth Whitaker Elam, MD, MSc; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Traditional methods of measuring bone density (eg, DXA), while inexpensive and easy to perform, do not account for all the material properties of bone. In fact, many females, and even more males, who sustain hip fractures have BMDs above the osteoporotic threshold. [134] FEA is a relatively new technique for measuring fracture risk that is emerging as a highly accurate tool to evaluate bone strength.

With FEA, three-dimensional renderings of bone created using CT images [135] or DXA [136] are subjected to computer-simulated loads until fracture. This technique for measuring bone strength is mostly used in research settings, but has the potential for future clinical use. [137]

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