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Osteoporos Int. 2008 May;19(5):615-23. Epub 2007 Nov 24.

Rate and circumstances of clinical vertebral fractures in older men.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR, USA.


We examined the rate of clinical vertebral fractures, and the circumstances associated with the fractures, in a cohort of 5,995 US older men. Fractures were more common in the most elderly men, and were usually associated with falls and other low-energy trauma.


Little is known about clinical vertebral fractures in older men. We postulated that clinical vertebral fractures occur with falls, affect men with osteoporosis, and are more common as age increases.


Five thousand nine hundred and ninety-five men aged > or =65 years were followed prospectively for an average of 4.7 years. Men with incident clinical vertebral fractures were compared to controls.


One percent (n = 61) sustained incident clinical vertebral fractures (2.2/1,000 person-years). The rate of fracture rose with age (0.7% in men 65-69 years and 5% > or =85 years). Fractured men were more likely frail (8.2% vs. 2.2%), more often fell (36.1% vs. 21%) and had lower total hip and lumbar spine BMD (all p values < or =0.002). In 73.8% of cases fractures were precipitated by no known trauma or by low-energy trauma, including falls in 57.3% Fractures were thoracic in 33% and lumbar in 56%. Men with an incident vertebral fracture were more likely to be osteoporotic (13% vs. 2%, p < 0.0001), but most men with incident fractures did not have osteoporosis.


Incident clinical vertebral fractures were relatively common in older men and the rate increased after age 80 years. Fractures were usually associated with minimal trauma, most commonly a fall.

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