One third of 218 men and half of 1,576 women with low-energy distal radius fractures met the bone mineral density (BMD) criteria for osteoporosis treatment. A large proportion of patients with increased fracture risk did not have osteoporosis. Thus, all distal radius fracture patients >or=50 years should be referred to bone densitometry.

Main objectives were to determine the prevalence of patients with a low-energy distal radius fracture in need of osteoporosis treatment according to existing guidelines using T-score < or= -2.0 or < or=-2.5 standard deviation (SD) and calculate their fracture risk.

A total of 218 men and 1,576 women >or=50 years were included. BMD was assessed by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) at femoral neck, total hip, and lumbar spine (L2-L4). The WHO fracture risk assessment tool (FRAX(R)) was applied to calculate the 10-year fracture risk.

T-scores < or=-2.0 and < or=-2.5 SD at femoral neck was found in 37.7% and 19.6% of men and 51.1% and 31.2% of women, respectively. The risk of hip fracture was 6.2% for men and 9.0% for women. The corresponding figures for patients with T-score < or=-2.0 SD were 11.6% and 14.5% and for T-score < or=-2.5 SD 16.3% and 18.2%, respectively. A large proportion of distal radius fracture patients with a high 10-year FRAX risk did not have osteoporosis.

Every second to every third fracture patient met the present BMD criteria for osteoporosis treatment. Because a large proportion of distal radius fracture patients did not have osteoporosis, treatment decisions should not be based on fracture risk assessment without bone densitometry. Thus, all distal radius fracture patients >or=50 years should be referred to bone densitometry, and if indicated, offered medical treatment.

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