Osteoporosis is associated with adverse orthopaedic surgical outcomes. Bone health optimization is a preoperative intervention intended to reduce the likelihood of postoperative complications. We aimed to characterize a patient cohort referred for bone health optimization to test the hypothesis that poor bone quality is common in orthopaedic surgery and that many such patients meet guidelines for osteoporosis treatment.
This retrospective study evaluated 124 patients referred for bone health optimization who were ≥50 years of age and candidates for arthroplasty or thoracolumbar surgery. The Fracture Risk Assessment Tool (FRAX) risk factors and dual x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) results were collected. When available, opportunistic computed tomographic (CT) imaging and the trabecular bone score were evaluated. The World Health Organization (WHO) diagnostic and National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) treatment guidelines were applied.
All patients were referred by their orthopaedic surgeon; their mean age was 69.2 years, 83% of patients were female, 97% were Caucasian, and 56% had sustained a previous fracture. The mean historical height loss (and standard deviation) was 5.3 ± 3.3 cm for women and 6.0 ± 3.6 cm for men. The mean lowest T-score of the hip, spine, or wrist was −2.43 ± 0.90 points in women and −2.04 ± 0.81 points in men (p < 0.08). Osteoporosis (T-score of ≤−2.5 points) was present in 45% of women and 20% of men; only 3% of women and 10% of men had normal bone mineral density. Opportunistic CT scans identified 60% of patients as likely having osteoporosis. The trabecular bone score identified 34% of patients with degraded bone microarchitecture and 30% of patients with partially degraded bone microarchitecture. The NOF threshold for osteoporosis treatment was met in 91% of patients. Treatment was prescribed in 75% of patients (45% anabolic therapy and 30% antiresorptive therapy).
Osteoporosis, degraded bone microarchitecture, prior fracture, and elevated fracture risk were common. Given the high prevalence of impaired bone health in this cohort, we believe that bone health screening, including FRAX assessment, should be considered in selected patients undergoing orthopaedic surgery as part of the preoperative optimization for all adults who are ≥50 years of age.
Level of Evidence:
Prognostic Level IV. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.