Utility of screening tools for the prediction of low bone mass in African American men

B. Sinnott, S. Kukreja, E. Barengolts

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Introduction: Osteoporosis remains under-diagnosed, particularly in African American men, despite the availability of reliable diagnostic tests. In women, several screening tools, including heel ultrasound and clinical assessment tools, reliably predict low bone mass, however the usefulness of these screening tools in African American men is unknown. The aim of this study was to determine the utility of screening tools, namely heel ultrasound, the osteoporosis self-assessment tool (OST), weight-based criterion (WBC) and body mass index (BMI), in screening for low bone mass in African American men. Materials and methods: African American men 35 years of age and older were invited to participate. The OST risk index is a score based on age and weight [(weight in kilograms - age in years) x 0.2]. Bone mineral density (BMD) of the heel was measured by heel ultrasound, and BMD of both the lumbar spine and hip were determined by dual energy X-ray absorptometry (DXA). One hundred and twenty-eight men fulfilled the inclusion criteria for our study. Results: The population prevalence of osteopenia and osteoporosis were 39% and 7%, respectively. Using a heel ultrasound T-score cut-off value of -1 or less, we predicted low bone mass (T-score of -2 or less at the hip) with a sensitivity of 83%, a specificity of 71% and an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.80. Using an OST cut-off value of 4, we predicted low bone mass with a sensitivity of 83%, a specificity of 57% and an AUC of 0.83. The OST risk index ranged from 18.1 to -6.1, based on which we categorized risk as: low, 5 or greater; moderate, 0-4; high, -1 or less. Of the men with a high-risk OST score, 87% had either osteopenia or osteoporosis based on World Health Organization (WHO) criteria. Using the WBC alone with a cut-off value of 85 kg, we predicted low bone mass with a sensitivity of 74%, a specificity of 50% and an AUC of 0.70. A BMI cut-off value of 30 or greater yielded a sensitivity of 83%, a specificity of 43% and an AUC of 0.70 for the diagnosis of low bone mass. Discussion: The prevalence of osteopenia and osteoporosis were unexpectedly high in outpatient African American male veterans, who are considered to be at low risk for low bone mass. Heel ultrasound was able to predict low bone mass with sufficiently high sensitivity and specificity for use as a screening tool. Surprisingly, WBC and BMI proved ineffective in predicting low bone mass with adequate sensitivity and specificity. The OST, a clinical formula based on weight and age, appeared to be an easy and reliable screening tool for identifying men at high risk for low bone mass.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)684-692
Number of pages9
JournalOsteoporosis International
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2006
Externally publishedYes



  • African American men
  • Low bone mass
  • Screening tools

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

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