Summary: Recent evidence has linked long-term bisphosphonate use with insufficiency fractures of the femur in postmenopausal women. In this case-control study, we have identified a significant association between a unique fracture of the femoral shaft, a transverse fracture in an area of thickened cortices, and long-term bisphosphonate use. Further studies are warranted.
Introduction: Although clinical trials confirm the anti-fracture efficacy of bisphosphonates over 3-5 years, the long-term effects of bisphosphonate use on bone metabolism are unknown. Femoral insufficiency fractures in patients on prolonged treatment have been reported.
Methods: We performed a retrospective case-control study of postmenopausal women who presented with low-energy femoral fractures from 2000 to 2007. Forty-one subtrochanteric and femoral shaft fracture cases were identified and matched by age, race, and body mass index to one intertrochanteric and femoral neck fracture each.
Results: Bisphosphonate use was observed in 15 of the 41 subtrochanteric/shaft cases, compared to nine of the 82 intertrochanteric/femoral neck controls (Mantel-Haenszel odds ratio (OR), 4.44 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.77-11.35]; P = 0.002). A common X-ray pattern was identified in ten of the 15 subtrochanteric/shaft cases on a bisphosphonate. This X-ray pattern was highly associated with bisphosphonate use (OR, 15.33 [95% CI 3.06-76.90]; P < 0.001). Duration of bisphosphonate use was longer in subtrochanteric/shaft cases compared to both hip fracture controls groups (P = 0.001).
Conclusions: We found a significantly greater proportion of patients with subtrochanteric/shaft fractures to be on long-term bisphosphonates than intertrochanteric/femoral neck fractures. Bisphosphonate use was highly associated with a unique X-ray pattern. Further studies are warranted.