Because osteoporosis is under-recognized in patients with vertebral fractures, we evaluated characteristics associated with osteoporosis identification. Most patients with vertebral fractures did not receive evaluation or treatment for osteoporosis. Black, younger, and male participants were particularly unlikely to have had recognized osteoporosis, which could increase their risk of negative outcomes.
Introduction: Vertebral fractures may be identified on imaging but fail to prompt evaluation for osteoporosis. Our objective was to evaluate characteristics associated with clinical osteoporosis recognition in patients who had vertebral fractures detected on their thoracolumbar spine imaging reports.
Methods: We prospectively identified individuals who received imaging of the lower spine at primary care clinics in 4 large healthcare systems who were eligible for osteoporosis screening and lacked indications of osteoporosis diagnoses or treatments in the prior year. We evaluated characteristics of participants with identified vertebral fractures that were associated with recognition of osteoporosis (diagnosis code in the health record; receipt of bone mineral density scans; and/or prescriptions for anti-osteoporotic medications). We used mixed models to estimate adjusted odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs).
Results: A total of 114,005 participants (47% female; mean age 65 (interquartile range: 57-72) years) were evaluated. Of the 8579 (7%) participants with vertebral fractures identified, 3784 (44%) had recognition of osteoporosis within the subsequent year. In adjusted regressions, Black participants (OR (95% CI): 0.74 (0.57, 0.97)), younger participants (age 50-60: 0.48 (0.42, 0.54); age 61-64: 0.70 (0.60, 0.81)), and males (0.39 (0.35, 0.43)) were less likely to have recognized osteoporosis compared to white participants, adults aged 65 + years, or females.
Conclusion: Individuals with identified vertebral fractures commonly did not have recognition of osteoporosis within a year, particularly those who were younger, Black, or male. Providers and healthcare systems should consider efforts to improve evaluation of osteoporosis in patients with vertebral fractures.
Keywords: Age; Gender; Osteoporosis; Thoracolumbar imaging; Vertebral fracture; race.
© 2022. International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation.