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Osteoporos Int. 2001;12(2):85-90.

Prevalent vertebral deformity predicts incident hip though not distal forearm fracture: results from the European Prospective Osteoporosis Study.

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  • 1ARC Epidemiology Unit, University of Manchester, UK.


The presence of a vertebral deformity increases the risk of subsequent spinal deformities. The aim of this analysis was to determine whether the presence of vertebral deformity predicts incident hip and other limb fractures. Six thousand three hundred and forty-four men and 6788 women aged 50 years and over were recruited from population registers in 31 European centers and followed prospectively for a median of 3 years. All subjects had radiographs performed at baseline and the presence of vertebral deformity was assessed using established morphometric methods. Incident limb fractures which occurred during the follow- up period were ascertained by annual postal questionnaire and confirmed by radiographs, review of medical records and personal interview. During a total of 40348 person-years of follow-up, 138 men and 391 women sustained a limb fracture. Amongst the women, after adjustment for age, prevalent vertebral deformity was a strong predictor of incident hip fracture, (rate ratio (RR) = 4.5; 95% CI 2.1-9.4) and a weak predictor of 'other' limb fractures (RR = 1.6; 95% CI 1.1-2.4), though not distal forearm fracture (RR = 1.0; 95% CI 0.6-1.6). The predictive risk increased with increasing number of prevalent deformities, particularly for subsequent hip fracture: for two or more deformities, RR = 7.2 (95% CI 3.0-17.3). Amongst men, vertebral deformity was not associated with an increased risk of incident limb fracture though there was a nonsignificant trend toward an increased risk of hip fracture with increasing number of deformities. In summary, prevalent radiographic vertebral deformities in women are a strong predictor of hip fracture, and to a lesser extent humerus and 'other' limb fractures; however, they do not predict distal forearm fractures.

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