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What Is FRAX?

Fracture Risk Assessment Tool

By

Updated January 01, 2013

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

FRAX Explained

FRAX is a tool that was developed by the World Health Organization to assess fracture risk. FRAX integrates clinical risk factors and bone mineral density at the femoral neck to calculate a ten-year fracture probability for men and women.

The models used to develop the FRAX calculator were derived from studying patient populations in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. There are paper versions of FRAX available but a free online FRAX tool exists as well. The updated web version is available in more languages and in more countries.

The FRAX Questionnaire

FRAX asks 12 questions and then calculates your ten-year fracture probability. The information that determines your risk includes:

  • Age or Date of Birth
  • Male or Female
  • Weight in kilograms
  • Height in centimeters
  • Previous fracture (no or yes)
  • Parent fractured hip (no or yes)
  • Current smoking (no or yes)
  • Glucocorticoids (no or yes)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (no or yes)
  • Secondary osteoporosis (no or yes)
  • Alcohol 3 or more units per day (no or yes)
  • Femoral neck bone mineral density - BMD in g/cm(squared)

The FRAX calculator offers specifics about what it's looking for in the questions related to glucocorticoids, rheumatoid arthritis, secondary osteoporosis, and alcohol use. To answer yes to the glucocorticoid question, you must have taken three months or more of prednisolone at 5 mg a day (or the equivalent dose of other steroids). "Yes" for rheumatoid arthritis means you have a confirmed diagnosis. "Yes" to secondary osteoporosis means you have a condition that is strongly linked to osteoporosis.

The Bottom Line

The FRAX calculator determines the ten-year fracture probability for an individual patient. By doing so, the calculator is essentially finding patients who need intervention or treatment to lower that probability.

Sources:

FRAX. WHO Fracture Risk Assessment Tool. Accessed 2/21/11.
http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/FRAX/

FRAX Calculation Tool. WHO Fracture Risk Assessment Tool. Accessed 2/21/11
http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/FRAX/tool.jsp

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