Fracture healing is characterized by an intense increase in modeling and remodeling of bone, which allows removal of the cast after a stable distal radius fracture within 3 to 5 weeks. However, at that time, bone strength has not recovered yet. We studied the changes in bone mineral density (BMD), microarchitecture, and bone stiffness after a distal radius fracture during a 2-year follow-up in comparison to the contralateral side and the association between the 2-year stiffness and baseline BMD, microarchitecture, and early changes in these parameters. The fractured side of 14 postmenopausal women (mean age 64 ± 8 years) with a conservatively treated distal radius fracture was scanned by high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography (HRpQCT) at 1 to 2, 3 to 4, 6 to 8, and 12 weeks and 2 years postfracture. The same region contralaterally was scanned as well at the 2-year visit. BMD, microarchitecture, and stiffness parameters were determined and the fracture side was compared with the contralateral side using a linear mixed-effect model. Spearman's correlation was used to correlate the 2-year bone stiffness with baseline BMD, microarchitecture, and early 3-month changes in these parameters. Two years postfracture, cortical and trabecular thickness and torsional and bending stiffness were significantly higher at the fractured side compared with the nonfractured side (21%, 55%, 31%, and 29%, respectively, p < 0.05), whereas BMD was similar. Two-year torsional and bending stiffness correlated significantly with baseline BMD and cortical perimeter (|rho| ≥ 0.63, p < 0.016) but not with early changes in bone parameters. Using HRpQCT, this study illustrates that fracture healing is not completed by the time the cast is removed. We showed that from 6 weeks to 2 years postfracture, large changes occur in BMD, microarchitecture, and biomechanical parameters at the fractured side, which were fully recovered after 2 years in comparison to the nonfractured contralateral side. Interestingly, higher 2-year torsional and bending stiffness were associated with lower BMD and higher cortical perimeter at baseline. © 2015 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.
- Journal Article