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Novel statistical methodology reveals that hip shape is associated with incident radiographic hip osteoarthritis among African American women

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Hip shape is a risk factor for the development of hip osteoarthritis (OA), and current methods to assess hip shape from radiographs are limited; therefore this study explored current and novel methods to assess hip shape.


Data from a prior case-control study nested in the Johnston County OA Project were used, including 382 hips (from 342 individuals). Hips were classified by radiographic hip OA (RHOA) status as RHOA cases (baseline Kellgren Lawrence grade [KLG] 0 or 1, follow-up [mean 6 years] KLG ≥ 2) or controls (KLG = 0 or 1 at both baseline and follow-up). Proximal femur shape was assessed using a 60-point model as previously described. The current analysis explored commonly used principal component analysis (PCA), as well as novel statistical methodologies suited to high dimension low sample size settings (Distance Weighted Discrimination [DWD] and Distance Projection Permutation [DiProPerm] hypothesis testing) to assess differences between cases and controls.


Using these novel methodologies, we were able to better characterize morphologic differences by sex and race. In particular, the proximal femurs of African American women demonstrated significantly different shapes between cases and controls, implying an important role for sex and race in the development of RHOA. Notably, discrimination was improved with the use of DWD and DiProPerm compared to PCA.


DWD with DiProPerm significance testing provides improved discrimination of variation in hip morphology between groups, and enables subgroup analyses even under small sample sizes.

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