Bone strain index as a predictor of further vertebral fracture in osteoporotic women: An artificial intelligence-based analysis

Fabio Massimo Ulivieri, Luca Rinaudo, Luca Petruccio Piodi, Carmelo Messina, Luca Maria Sconfienza, Francesco Sardanelli, Giuseppe Guglielmi, Enzo Grossi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Osteoporosis is an asymptomatic disease of high prevalence and incidence, leading to bone fractures burdened by high mortality and disability, mainly when several subsequent fractures occur. A fragility fracture predictive model, Artificial Intelligence-based, to identify dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) variables able to characterise those patients who are prone to further fractures called Bone Strain Index, was evaluated in this study. Methods In a prospective, longitudinal, multicentric study 172 female outpatients with at least one vertebral fracture at the first observation were enrolled. They performed a spine X-ray to calculate spine deformity index (SDI) and a lumbar and femoral DXA scan to assess bone mineral density (BMD) and bone strain index (BSI) at baseline and after a follow-up period of 3 years in average. At the end of the follow-up, 93 women developed a further vertebral fracture. The further vertebral fracture was considered as one unit increase of SDI. We assessed the predictive capacity of supervised Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs) to distinguish women who developed a further fracture from those without it, and to detect those variables providing the maximal amount of relevant information to discriminate the two groups. ANNs choose appropriate input data automatically (TWIST-system, Training With Input Selection and Testing). Moreover, we built a semantic connectivity map usingthe Auto Contractive Map to provide further insights about the convoluted connections between the osteoporotic variables under consideration and the two scenarios (further fracture vs no further fracture). Results TWIST system selected 5 out of 13 available variables: age, menopause age, BMI, FTot BMC, FTot BSI. With training testing procedure, ANNs reached predictive accuracy of 79.36%, with a sensitivity of 75% and a specificity of 83.72%. The semantic connectivity map highlighted the role of BSI in predicting the risk of a further fracture. Conclusions Artificial Intelligence is a useful method to analyse a complex system like that regarding osteoporosis, able to identify patients prone to a further fragility fracture. BSI appears to be a useful DXA index in identifying those patients who are at risk of further vertebral fractures.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0245967
JournalPLoS One
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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