Send to

Choose Destination
Spine J. 2019 Nov 1. pii: S1529-9430(19)31066-6. doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2019.10.020. [Epub ahead of print]

Declining trend in osteoporosis management and screening following vertebral compression fractures - a national analysis of commercial insurance and medicare advantage beneficiaries.

Author information

Department of Orthopedics, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, 410 W 10th Av, Columbus, OH, USA.
Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, The Ohio State University, OH, USA; Division of Health Services Management and Policy, College of Public Health, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA.
Midwest Orthopedics at Rush, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL, USA.
Department of Orthopedics, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, 410 W 10th Av, Columbus, OH, USA. Electronic address:



Despite the increasing national incidence, osteoporosis and its associated comanagement, often remain an overlooked issue in the orthopedic world. Screening and associated management of osteoporosis is often only considered by providers when patients present with multiple fragility fractures. Current evidence with regard to the trends in screening and medical comanagement/antiosteoporotic therapy of osteoporotic vertebral compression fractures (VCFs) remains limited.


To understand trends, costs, and clinical impact associated the utilization of antiosteoporotic medication and screening with the 1 year following occurrences of sentinel/primary osteoporotic VCFs.


Retrospective review of 2008-2015Q3 Humana Administrative Claims (HAC) database.


The 2008-2015Q3 HAC database was queried using International Classification of Diseases 9th Edition (ICD-9) diagnosis codes 805.2 and 805.4 to identify patients with primary closed osteoporotic thoracolumbar VCFs. Patients with a concurrent diagnosis of trauma and/or malignancy were excluded. Patients experiencing a fragility fracture of the hip, distal radius or proximal humerus, and/or those already on osteoporotic medications within the year before the VCF were excluded to prevent an overlap in the screening and/or antiresorptive medication rates. Finally, only those patients who had complete 2 year follow-up data were analyzed.


To understand trends over time in the utilization of medication for osteoporosis and screening within 1 year following sentinel VCFs. The study also aimed to report per-prescription and per-patient average costs associated with different antiosteoporotic medications. As secondary objectives, we also assessed (1) risk factors associated with not receiving antiosteoporotic medication within the year following sentinel VCFs and (2) differences in rates of experiencing a secondary fragility fracture of vertebrae, hip, distal radius, and proximal humerus between patients who received medication following the sentinel VCF versus those who did not receive any medication.


A total of 6,464 primary osteoporotic VCFs were retrieved from the database. A majority of the VCFs were seen in females (N=5,199; 80.4%). Only 28.8% (N=1,860) patients received some form of medication for osteoporosis medication in the year following the VCF. Over a 6-year interval, treatment with medication for osteoporosis declined from 38% in 2008 to 24% in 2014. The average cost of antiosteoporotic treatment per patient was $1,511. The most commonly prescribed treatment and associated average cost/patient was alendronate sodium (N=1,239; 66.6% to $120/patient). The most costly prescribed treatment was Forteo (N=177; 2.7%) with an average cost/patient of $12,074 and cost/injection being $2,373. Only 36.7% (N=2,371) received a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry/bone density scan in the year following the VCF with an average cost/patient of $76. Risk factors associated with no prescription of medication for osteoporosis within 1 year of VCF were male gender (odds ratio [OR] 1.17 [95% confidence interval {CI} 1.01-1.35]; p=.027), history of cerebrovascular accident/stroke (OR 1.56 [95% CI 1.08-2.32]; p=.022), history of diabetes mellitus (OR 1.28 [95% CI 1.04-1.58]; p=.023). Of note, patients in the West versus Midwest (OR 1.26 [95% CI 1.04-1.51]; p=.016) and commercial insurance beneficiaries (OR 1.95 [95% CI 1.08-3.52]; p=.027) were more likely to receive antiosteoporotic medication. Patients who were placed on antiosteoporotic medication were significantly less likely to suffer a second fragility fracture compared with patients that did not receive medication (OR 0.27 [95% CI 0.24-0.31]; p=.033).


The proportion of patients starting antiosteoporotic medication within a year after a VCF remains low (28.8%). Furthermore, a declining trend of antiosteoporotic medication prescription was noted over time. Providers who care for patients with sentinel VCFs need to be more diligent in their efforts to diagnose and treat the underlying osteoporosis to reduce the burden of future fragility fractures.


Humana; Medication; Osteoporosis; Pearldiver; Primary; Sentinel; Trends; Vertebral compression fractures

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center