DXA Measured Distal Femur Bone Mineral Density in Patients After Total Knee Arthroplasty: Method Development and Reproducibility

B. Thomas, N. Binkley, P. A. Anderson, D. Krueger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Introduction: Total knee arthroplasty (TKA) is increasingly being performed. Distal femur periprosthetic fracture is a potentially catastrophic complication following TKA and existing data document substantial distal femur bone mineral density (BMD) loss following TKA. However, distal femur BMD is virtually never measured clinically as no consensus approach exists. This pilot study's purpose was to define regional BMD variation throughout the femur, suggest standard dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) regions of interest (ROIs) and evaluate BMD reproducibility at these ROIs. Methods: Thirty volunteers 2–5 yr post TKA had both entire femurs imaged twice using a Lunar iDXA with subject repositioning between scans; the atypical femur fracture feature of enCORE software was utilized. To define femoral BMD distribution, custom 1 cm ROIs were stacked one atop the other starting at the intercondylar notch and continuing to the base of the lesser trochanter. Femur length was measured with the ruler tool to calculate distance at 5% increments. ROIs encompassing each 5% increment were utilized to measure BMD at each location. Descriptive statistics were used to determine mean BMD at each ROI and reproducibility at the 15%, 25%, 45%, 60%, and 80% ROIs. Results: The 5 and 10% ROIs included prosthetic and/or patella, causing high BMD values. Distal femur BMD was lowest at the 15% ROI and was higher (p < 0.05) at each more proximal ROI to 45%, then plateaued from 45% to 75%. BMD reproducibility at these regions was excellent; coefficient of variation (CV) from ∼1% to 3.5%. As periprosthetic fractures generally occur in the distal femur, we propose measuring femur BMD using ROIs placed at 15% and 25%. A 60% region could also be used as a highly cortical site. Conclusion: Existing DXA capabilities allow distal femur BMD measurement with good reproducibility. Further research using standardized ROIs to assess distal femur BMD loss after TKA, and interventions to mitigate this loss, is indicated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-73
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Densitometry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • DXA
  • bone mineral density
  • total knee arthroplasty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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