Despite guidelines recommending postfracture bone health workup, multiple studies have shown that evaluation and treatment of osteoporosis has not been consistently implemented after fragility fractures. The primary aim of this study was to evaluate rates of osteoporosis evaluation and treatment in adult patients after low-energy thoracolumbar vertebral compression fractures (VCFs).
We retrospectively reviewed all patients ≥60 years old presenting to a single academic trauma center with acute thoracolumbar VCFs after a ground-level fall from 2016 to 2020 . Rates of osteoporosis screening with dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry and initiation of pharmaceutical treatment were recorded at four time points: before the date of injury, during index hospitalization, at first primary care provider follow-up, and at final primary care provider follow-up. Rates of subsequent falls and secondary fragility fractures were recorded. One-year mortality and overall mortality were also calculated.
Fifty-two patients with a mean age of 83 years presenting with thoracic and/or lumbar fractures after a ground-level fall were included. At a mean final follow-up of 502 days, only 10 patients (19.2%) received pharmacologic therapy for osteoporosis and only 6 (11.5%) underwent postinjury dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry evaluation. Twenty-five patients (48%) had at least one subsequent fall at a mean of 164 days from the initial date of injury. Eleven patients with subsequent falls sustained an additional fragility fracture because of the fall, including six operative injuries. One-year mortality among the 52 patients was 26.9%, and the overall mortality rate was 44.2% at the final follow-up.
Osteoporosis remains a major public health issue that markedly affects quality of life and healthcare costs. Our study demonstrates the additional need for improved osteoporosis workup and intervention among patients who have sustained VCFs. We hope that our study helps raise awareness for improved osteoporosis evaluation and treatment among spine surgeons and all medical professionals treating patients with fragility fractures.
Level of Evidence:
Retrospective Case Series, Level IV Evidence