FRAX: A New Tool to Detect Osteoporosis
Will It Improve Treatment?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) introduced a new risk assessment program called FRAX (fracture risk assessment tool). This revolutionary method may offer medical professionals unparalleled accuracy in osteoporosis diagnosis and treatment.
FRAX is an online tool that estimates how likely it is that someone might have a fracture related to osteoporosis or osteopenia (low bone mass) over a 10-year period. Traditionally, doctors relied primarily on bone mineral density (BMD) tests to determine a person's risk of developing osteoporosis. But FRAX examines both the risk of fracture and the cost effectiveness of possible treatments.
FRAX was developed by Dr. John A. Kanis, president of the International Osteoporosis Foundation, along with members of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Metabolic Bone Diseases at the University of Sheffield Medical School, UK. The team hopes that the advancement will help avoid unnecessary treatment expenses for men and women at low risk and better target treatment for those who truly need it.
Doctors use the tool by entering the patient's basic informationage, sex, weight, height, and femoral neck (from the hip region) BMD. FRAX also considers other risk factors of osteoporosis, such as prior fracture, genetic history of fracture, smoking history and alcohol consumption, and existing medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
As a method of osteoporosis management, FRAX may help health care professionals all over the world more accurately diagnose and treat osteoporosis. The formula is currently available at www.shef.ac.uk/FRAX, but since FRAX is still in its early stages, more time is needed until doctors will use the program on a regular basis.
For patients, this development means that a new way is on the horizon that may help doctors better determine an individual's risk for osteoporosis. With a more precise understanding of the risk level, doctors may be better equipped to cater treatment. This will ultimately be more cost effective for patients.
Kanis, JA, McCloskey, EV, et. al. Case finding for the management of osteoporosis with FRAXassessment and intervention thresholds for the UK. Osteoporos Int. 2008 19 (10): 1395-1408.