Concomitant and previous osteoporotic vertebral fractures
Background and purpose — Patients with osteoporosis who present with an acute onset of back pain often have multiple fractures on plain radiographs. Differentiation of an acute osteoporotic vertebral fracture (AOVF) from previous fractures is difficult. The aim of this study was to investigate the incidence of concomitant AOVFs and previous OVFs in patients with symptomatic AOVFs, and to identify risk factors for concomitant AOVFs.
Patients and methods — This was a prospective epidemiological study based on the Registry of Pathological Osteoporotic Vertebral Fractures (REPAPORA) with 1,005 patients and 2,874 osteoporotic vertebral fractures, which has been running since February 1, 2006. Concomitant fractures are defined as at least 2 acute short-tau inversion recovery (STIR-) positive vertebral fractures that happen concomitantly. A previous fracture is a STIR-negative fracture at the time of initial diagnostics. Logistic regression was used to examine the influence of various variables on the incidence of concomitant fractures.
Results — More than 99% of osteoporotic vertebral fractures occurred in the thoracic and lumbar spine. The incidence of concomitant fractures at the time of first patient contact was 26% and that of previous fractures was 60%. The odds ratio (OR) for concomitant fractures decreased with a higher number of previous fractures (OR =0.86; p = 0.03) and higher dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry T-score (OR =0.72; p = 0.003).
Interpretation — Concomitant and previous osteoporotic vertebral fractures are common. Risk factors for concomitant fractures are a low T-score and a low number of previous vertebral fractures in cases of osteoporotic vertebral fracture. An MRI scan of the the complete thoracic and lumbar spine with STIR sequence reduces the risk of under-diagnosis and under-treatment.