Objectives: To identify the incidence of undiagnosed cervical myelopathy in patients who fall and develop hip fractures compared with age-matched controls.
Design: Prospective, case-control study.
Setting: University level 1 Trauma Center.
Patients/participants: Consecutive patients who presented with hip fractures after a fall. A total of 159 patients were screened; 66 patients (38 arthroplasty, 28 fracture) were eligible for enrollment in the study. Exclusion criteria included cognitive impairment, known diagnosis of cervical myelopathy, previous cervical spine surgery, inability to comply with examination, or refusal to participate. The control group was age-matched elderly patients who underwent total hip arthroplasty (THA).
Intervention: Patient interview and physical examination for cervical myelopathy.
Main outcome measurements: Myelopathy was diagnosed by clinical history elements (Japanese Orthopaedic Association score ≤15) and pathologic reflexes. Comparison of the incidence of myelopathy in the study population with the control population was performed using Fisher exact test.
Results: There were no statistically significant differences between the fracture and THA groups in mean patient age or male/female ratio. There was a statistically significant increased incidence of myelopathy in hip fracture patients (18%) compared with the THA group (0%, P = 0.01).
Conclusions: Hip fracture is a complex multifactorial process, and most patients (60%) were excluded due to known cognitive impairment. However, 18% of previously undiagnosed patients who were cognitively intact manifested clinical findings consistent with cervical spondylotic myelopathy. Consideration should be given to screening for undiagnosed myelopathy among patients with hip fracture to reduce the risk of subsequent fractures.
Level of evidence: Prognostic Level III. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.