Incidence of nonvertebral fractures in relation to time on treatment and bone density in glucocorticoid-treated patients: a retrospective approach

J Clin Rheumatol. 2003 Jun;9(3):170-5. doi: 10.1097/01.RHU.0000073586.28977.31.


The effects of duration of treatment and bone mineral density (BMD) on nonvertebral fracture in 560 glucocorticoid users were examined by using baseline and retrospective data from 2 parallel studies assessing the efficacy and safety of alendronate therapy. Baseline spine and hip BMD were significantly (P < 0.01) lower with increased time spent receiving glucocorticoids. Forty-three patients (7.7%) had experienced at least 1 nonvertebral fracture after starting glucocorticoid treatment. The hazard function for nonvertebral fracture occurrence increased significantly (P < 0.01) with time spent receiving glucocorticoids: fracture incidence per 1,000 person-years on glucocorticoids was 18 (< 5 years), 31 (5-10 years), and 35 (> 10 years). Patients with a history of nonvertebral fractures after starting glucocorticoid treatment had significantly lower lumbar spine (P < 0.01) and hip (< 0.01) BMD value than those without fractures. This retrospective analysis suggests that a BMD measurement of spine and hip may identify risk for nonvertebral fractures in a heterogeneous population of glucocorticoid users.