Epidemiology and reporting of osteoporotic vertebral fractures in patients with long-term hospital records based on routine clinical CT imaging

Osteoporos Int. 2022 Mar;33(3):685-694. doi: 10.1007/s00198-021-06169-x. Epub 2021 Oct 14.


Osteoporotic vertebral fractures signify an increased risk of future fractures and mortality and can manifest the diagnosis of osteoporosis. We investigated the prevalence of vertebral fractures in routine CT of patients with long-term hospital records. Three out of ten patients showed osteoporotic vertebral fractures (VFs) corresponding to the highest rates reported in European population-based studies.

Introduction: VFs are a common manifestation of osteoporosis, which influences future fracture risk. Their epidemiology has been investigated in population-based studies. However, few studies report the prevalence of osteoporotic VF in patients seen in clinical routine and include all common fracture levels of the thoracolumbar spine. The purpose of this study was to investigate the prevalence of osteoporotic VF in patients with CT scans and long-term hospital records and identify clinical factors associated with prevalent VFs.

Methods: All patients aged 45 years and older with a CT scan and prior hospital record of at least 5 years that were seen in the study period between September 2008 and May 2017 were reviewed. Imaging requirements were a CT scan with sagittal reformations including at least T6-L4. Patients with multiple myeloma were excluded. Fracture reading was performed using the Genant semi-quantitative method. Medical notes were reviewed for established diagnoses of osteoporosis and clinical information. Clinical factors (e.g. drug intake, chemotherapy, and mobility level) associated with prevalent VF were identified in logistic regression.

Results: The study population consisted of 718 patients (228 women and 490 men; mean age 69.3 ± 10.1 years) with mainly cancer staging and angiography CT imaging. The overall prevalence of VFs was 30.5%, with non-significantly more men showing a fracture (32.5%) compared to women (26.3%; p > 0.05). Intake of metamizole for ≥ 3 months was significantly associated with a prevalent VF. Medical records did not include information about bone health in 90% of all patients. CT reports did mention a VF in only 24.7% of patients with a prevalent VF on CT review.

Conclusion: Approximately 30% of elderly patients with CT imaging and long-term hospital records showed VFs. Only one-quarter of these patients had VFs mentioned in CT reports. Osteoporosis management could be improved by consequent reporting of VFs in CT, opportunistic bone density measurements, and early involvement of fracture liaison services.

Keywords: Fragility fracture; Oncologic patients; Opportunistic screening; Osteoporosis; Vertebral fractures.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Bone Density
  • Female
  • Hospital Records
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporotic Fractures* / diagnostic imaging
  • Osteoporotic Fractures* / epidemiology
  • Osteoporotic Fractures* / etiology
  • Spinal Fractures* / diagnostic imaging
  • Spinal Fractures* / epidemiology
  • Spinal Fractures* / etiology
  • Spine
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed