Worldwide prevalence and incidence of osteoporotic vertebral fractures

Osteoporos Int. 2017 May;28(5):1531-1542. doi: 10.1007/s00198-017-3909-3. Epub 2017 Feb 6.


We investigated the prevalence and incidence of vertebral fractures worldwide. We used a systematic Medline search current to 2015 and updated as per authors' libraries. A total of 62 articles of fair to good quality and comparable methods for vertebral fracture identification were considered. The prevalence of morphometric vertebral fractures in European women is highest in Scandinavia (26%) and lowest in Eastern Europe (18%). Prevalence rates in North America (NA) for White women ≥50 are 20-24%, with a White/Black ratio of 1.6. Rates in women ≥50 years in Latin America are overall lower than Europe and NA (11-19%). In Asia, rates in women above ≥65 are highest in Japan (24%), lowest in Indonesia (9%), and in the Middle East, Lebanon, rates are 20%. The highest-lowest ratio between countries, within and across continents, varied from 1.4-2.6. Incidence data is less abundant and more heterogeneous. Age-standardized rates in studies combining hospitalized and ambulatory vertebral fractures are highest in South Korea, USA, and Hong Kong and lowest in the UK. Neither a North-South gradient nor a relation to urbanization is evident. Conversely, the incidence of hospitalized vertebral fractures in European patients ≥50 shows a North-South gradient with 3-3.7-fold variability. In the USA, rates in Whites are approximately 4-fold higher than in Blacks. Vertebral fractures variation worldwide is lower than observed with hip fractures, and some of highest rates are unexpectedly from Asia. Better quality representative studies are needed. We investigate the occurrence of vertebral fractures, worldwide, using published data current until the present. Worldwide, the variation in vertebral fractures is lower than observed for hip fractures. Some of the highest rates are from North America and unexpectedly Asia. The highest-lowest ratio between countries, within and across continents, varied from 1.4-2.6. Better quality representative data is needed.

Keywords: Ethnicities; Incidence; Prevalence; Variation; Vertebral fractures; Worldwide.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Global Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Osteoporotic Fractures / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Factors
  • Spinal Fractures / epidemiology*