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1.  Utilization of DXA Bone Mineral Densitometry in Ontario 
Executive Summary
Systematic reviews and analyses of administrative data were performed to determine the appropriate use of bone mineral density (BMD) assessments using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA), and the associated trends in wrist and hip fractures in Ontario.
Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry Bone Mineral Density Assessment
Dual energy x-ray absorptiometry bone densitometers measure bone density based on differential absorption of 2 x-ray beams by bone and soft tissues. It is the gold standard for detecting and diagnosing osteoporosis, a systemic disease characterized by low bone density and altered bone structure, resulting in low bone strength and increased risk of fractures. The test is fast (approximately 10 minutes) and accurate (exceeds 90% at the hip), with low radiation (1/3 to 1/5 of that from a chest x-ray). DXA densitometers are licensed as Class 3 medical devices in Canada. The World Health Organization has established criteria for osteoporosis and osteopenia based on DXA BMD measurements: osteoporosis is defined as a BMD that is >2.5 standard deviations below the mean BMD for normal young adults (i.e. T-score <–2.5), while osteopenia is defined as BMD that is more than 1 standard deviation but less than 2.5 standard deviation below the mean for normal young adults (i.e. T-score< –1 & ≥–2.5). DXA densitometry is presently an insured health service in Ontario.
Clinical Need
Burden of Disease
The Canadian Multicenter Osteoporosis Study (CaMos) found that 16% of Canadian women and 6.6% of Canadian men have osteoporosis based on the WHO criteria, with prevalence increasing with age. Osteopenia was found in 49.6% of Canadian women and 39% of Canadian men. In Ontario, it is estimated that nearly 530,000 Ontarians have some degrees of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis-related fragility fractures occur most often in the wrist, femur and pelvis. These fractures, particularly those in the hip, are associated with increased mortality, and decreased functional capacity and quality of life. A Canadian study showed that at 1 year after a hip fracture, the mortality rate was 20%. Another 20% required institutional care, 40% were unable to walk independently, and there was lower health-related quality of life due to attributes such as pain, decreased mobility and decreased ability to self-care. The cost of osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures in Canada was estimated to be $1.3 billion in 1993.
Guidelines for Bone Mineral Density Testing
With 2 exceptions, almost all guidelines address only women. None of the guidelines recommend blanket population-based BMD testing. Instead, all guidelines recommend BMD testing in people at risk of osteoporosis, predominantly women aged 65 years or older. For women under 65 years of age, BMD testing is recommended only if one major or two minor risk factors for osteoporosis exist. Osteoporosis Canada did not restrict its recommendations to women, and thus their guidelines apply to both sexes. Major risk factors are age greater than or equal to 65 years, a history of previous fractures, family history (especially parental history) of fracture, and medication or disease conditions that affect bone metabolism (such as long-term glucocorticoid therapy). Minor risk factors include low body mass index, low calcium intake, alcohol consumption, and smoking.
Current Funding for Bone Mineral Density Testing
The Ontario Health Insurance Program (OHIP) Schedule presently reimburses DXA BMD at the hip and spine. Measurements at both sites are required if feasible. Patients at low risk of accelerated bone loss are limited to one BMD test within any 24-month period, but there are no restrictions on people at high risk. The total fee including the professional and technical components for a test involving 2 or more sites is $106.00 (Cdn).
Method of Review
This review consisted of 2 parts. The first part was an analysis of Ontario administrative data relating to DXA BMD, wrist and hip fractures, and use of antiresorptive drugs in people aged 65 years and older. The Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences extracted data from the OHIP claims database, the Canadian Institute for Health Information hospital discharge abstract database, the National Ambulatory Care Reporting System, and the Ontario Drug Benefit database using OHIP and ICD-10 codes. The data was analyzed to examine the trends in DXA BMD use from 1992 to 2005, and to identify areas requiring improvement.
The second part included systematic reviews and analyses of evidence relating to issues identified in the analyses of utilization data. Altogether, 8 reviews and qualitative syntheses were performed, consisting of 28 published systematic reviews and/or meta-analyses, 34 randomized controlled trials, and 63 observational studies.
Findings of Utilization Analysis
Analysis of administrative data showed a 10-fold increase in the number of BMD tests in Ontario between 1993 and 2005.
OHIP claims for BMD tests are presently increasing at a rate of 6 to 7% per year. Approximately 500,000 tests were performed in 2005/06 with an age-adjusted rate of 8,600 tests per 100,000 population.
Women accounted for 90 % of all BMD tests performed in the province.
In 2005/06, there was a 2-fold variation in the rate of DXA BMD tests across local integrated health networks, but a 10-fold variation between the county with the highest rate (Toronto) and that with the lowest rate (Kenora). The analysis also showed that:
With the increased use of BMD, there was a concomitant increase in the use of antiresorptive drugs (as shown in people 65 years and older) and a decrease in the rate of hip fractures in people age 50 years and older.
Repeat BMD made up approximately 41% of all tests. Most of the people (>90%) who had annual BMD tests in a 2-year or 3-year period were coded as being at high risk for osteoporosis.
18% (20,865) of the people who had a repeat BMD within a 24-month period and 34% (98,058) of the people who had one BMD test in a 3-year period were under 65 years, had no fracture in the year, and coded as low-risk.
Only 19% of people age greater than 65 years underwent BMD testing and 41% received osteoporosis treatment during the year following a fracture.
Men accounted for 24% of all hip fractures and 21 % of all wrist fractures, but only 10% of BMD tests. The rates of BMD tests and treatment in men after a fracture were only half of those in women.
In both men and women, the rate of hip and wrist fractures mainly increased after age 65 with the sharpest increase occurring after age 80 years.
Findings of Systematic Review and Analysis
Serial Bone Mineral Density Testing for People Not Receiving Osteoporosis Treatment
A systematic review showed that the mean rate of bone loss in people not receiving osteoporosis treatment (including postmenopausal women) is generally less than 1% per year. Higher rates of bone loss were reported for people with disease conditions or on medications that affect bone metabolism. In order to be considered a genuine biological change, the change in BMD between serial measurements must exceed the least significant change (variability) of the testing, ranging from 2.77% to 8% for precisions ranging from 1% to 3% respectively. Progression in BMD was analyzed, using different rates of baseline BMD values, rates of bone loss, precision, and BMD value for initiating treatment. The analyses showed that serial BMD measurements every 24 months (as per OHIP policy for low-risk individuals) is not necessary for people with no major risk factors for osteoporosis, provided that the baseline BMD is normal (T-score ≥ –1), and the rate of bone loss is less than or equal to 1% per year. The analyses showed that for someone with a normal baseline BMD and a rate of bone loss of less than 1% per year, the change in BMD is not likely to exceed least significant change (even for a 1% precision) in less than 3 years after the baseline test, and is not likely to drop to a BMD level that requires initiation of treatment in less than 16 years after the baseline test.
Serial Bone Mineral Density Testing in People Receiving Osteoporosis Therapy
Seven published meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and 2 recent RCTs on BMD monitoring during osteoporosis therapy showed that although higher increases in BMD were generally associated with reduced risk of fracture, the change in BMD only explained a small percentage of the fracture risk reduction.
Studies showed that some people with small or no increase in BMD during treatment experienced significant fracture risk reduction, indicating that other factors such as improved bone microarchitecture might have contributed to fracture risk reduction.
There is conflicting evidence relating to the role of BMD testing in improving patient compliance with osteoporosis therapy.
Even though BMD may not be a perfect surrogate for reduction in fracture risk when monitoring responses to osteoporosis therapy, experts advised that it is still the only reliable test available for this purpose.
A systematic review conducted by the Medical Advisory Secretariat showed that the magnitude of increases in BMD during osteoporosis drug therapy varied among medications. Although most of the studies yielded mean percentage increases in BMD from baseline that did not exceed the least significant change for a 2% precision after 1 year of treatment, there were some exceptions.
Bone Mineral Density Testing and Treatment After a Fragility Fracture
A review of 3 published pooled analyses of observational studies and 12 prospective population-based observational studies showed that the presence of any prevalent fracture increases the relative risk for future fractures by approximately 2-fold or more. A review of 10 systematic reviews of RCTs and 3 additional RCTs showed that therapy with antiresorptive drugs significantly reduced the risk of vertebral fractures by 40 to 50% in postmenopausal osteoporotic women and osteoporotic men, and 2 antiresorptive drugs also reduced the risk of nonvertebral fractures by 30 to 50%. Evidence from observational studies in Canada and other jurisdictions suggests that patients who had undergone BMD measurements, particularly if a diagnosis of osteoporosis is made, were more likely to be given pharmacologic bone-sparing therapy. Despite these findings, the rate of BMD investigation and osteoporosis treatment after a fracture remained low (<20%) in Ontario as well as in other jurisdictions.
Bone Mineral Density Testing in Men
There are presently no specific Canadian guidelines for BMD screening in men. A review of the literature suggests that risk factors for fracture and the rate of vertebral deformity are similar for men and women, but the mortality rate after a hip fracture is higher in men compared with women. Two bisphosphonates had been shown to reduce the risk of vertebral and hip fractures in men. However, BMD testing and osteoporosis treatment were proportionately low in Ontario men in general, and particularly after a fracture, even though men accounted for 25% of the hip and wrist fractures. The Ontario data also showed that the rates of wrist fracture and hip fracture in men rose sharply in the 75- to 80-year age group.
Ontario-Based Economic Analysis
The economic analysis focused on analyzing the economic impact of decreasing future hip fractures by increasing the rate of BMD testing in men and women age greater than or equal to 65 years following a hip or wrist fracture. A decision analysis showed the above strategy, especially when enhanced by improved reporting of BMD tests, to be cost-effective, resulting in a cost-effectiveness ratio ranging from $2,285 (Cdn) per fracture avoided (worst-case scenario) to $1,981 (Cdn) per fracture avoided (best-case scenario). A budget impact analysis estimated that shifting utilization of BMD testing from the low risk population to high risk populations within Ontario would result in a saving of $0.85 million to $1.5 million (Cdn) to the health system. The potential net saving was estimated at $1.2 million to $5 million (Cdn) when the downstream cost-avoidance due to prevention of future hip fractures was factored into the analysis.
Other Factors for Consideration
There is a lack of standardization for BMD testing in Ontario. Two different standards are presently being used and experts suggest that variability in results from different facilities may lead to unnecessary testing. There is also no requirement for standardized equipment, procedure or reporting format. The current reimbursement policy for BMD testing encourages serial testing in people at low risk of accelerated bone loss. This review showed that biannual testing is not necessary for all cases. The lack of a database to collect clinical data on BMD testing makes it difficult to evaluate the clinical profiles of patients tested and outcomes of the BMD tests. There are ministry initiatives in progress under the Osteoporosis Program to address the development of a mandatory standardized requisition form for BMD tests to facilitate data collection and clinical decision-making. Work is also underway for developing guidelines for BMD testing in men and in perimenopausal women.
Increased use of BMD in Ontario since 1996 appears to be associated with increased use of antiresorptive medication and a decrease in hip and wrist fractures.
Data suggest that as many as 20% (98,000) of the DXA BMD tests in Ontario in 2005/06 were performed in people aged less than 65 years, with no fracture in the current year, and coded as being at low risk for accelerated bone loss; this is not consistent with current guidelines. Even though some of these people might have been incorrectly coded as low-risk, the number of tests in people truly at low risk could still be substantial.
Approximately 4% (21,000) of the DXA BMD tests in 2005/06 were repeat BMDs in low-risk individuals within a 24-month period. Even though this is in compliance with current OHIP reimbursement policies, evidence showed that biannual serial BMD testing is not necessary in individuals without major risk factors for fractures, provided that the baseline BMD is normal (T-score < –1). In this population, BMD measurements may be repeated in 3 to 5 years after the baseline test to establish the rate of bone loss, and further serial BMD tests may not be necessary for another 7 to 10 years if the rate of bone loss is no more than 1% per year. Precision of the test needs to be considered when interpreting serial BMD results.
Although changes in BMD may not be the perfect surrogate for reduction in fracture risk as a measure of response to osteoporosis treatment, experts advised that it is presently the only reliable test for monitoring response to treatment and to help motivate patients to continue treatment. Patients should not discontinue treatment if there is no increase in BMD after the first year of treatment. Lack of response or bone loss during treatment should prompt the physician to examine whether the patient is taking the medication appropriately.
Men and women who have had a fragility fracture at the hip, spine, wrist or shoulder are at increased risk of having a future fracture, but this population is presently under investigated and under treated. Additional efforts have to be made to communicate to physicians (particularly orthopaedic surgeons and family physicians) and the public about the need for a BMD test after fracture, and for initiating treatment if low BMD is found.
Men had a disproportionately low rate of BMD tests and osteoporosis treatment, especially after a fracture. Evidence and fracture data showed that the risk of hip and wrist fractures in men rises sharply at age 70 years.
Some counties had BMD utilization rates that were only 10% of that of the county with the highest utilization. The reasons for low utilization need to be explored and addressed.
Initiatives such as aligning reimbursement policy with current guidelines, developing specific guidelines for BMD testing in men and perimenopausal women, improving BMD reports to assist in clinical decision making, developing a registry to track BMD tests, improving access to BMD tests in remote/rural counties, establishing mechanisms to alert family physicians of fractures, and educating physicians and the public, will improve the appropriate utilization of BMD tests, and further decrease the rate of fractures in Ontario. Some of these initiatives such as developing guidelines for perimenopausal women and men, and developing a standardized requisition form for BMD testing, are currently in progress under the Ontario Osteoporosis Strategy.
PMCID: PMC3379167  PMID: 23074491
2.  Balloon Kyphoplasty 
Executive Summary
To review the evidence on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of balloon kyphoplasty for the treatment of vertebral compression fractures (VCFs).
Clinical Need
Vertebral compression fractures are one of the most common types of osteoporotic fractures. They can lead to chronic pain and spinal deformity. They are caused when the vertebral body (the thick block of bone at the front of each vertebra) is too weak to support the loads of activities of daily living. Spinal deformity due to a collapsed vertebral body can substantially affect the quality of life of elderly people, who are especially at risk for osteoporotic fractures due to decreasing bone mass with age. A population-based study across 12 European centres recently found that VCFs have a negative impact on health-related quality of life. Complications associated with VCFs are pulmonary dysfunction, eating disorders, loss of independence, and mental status change due to pain and the use of medications. Osteoporotic VCFs also are associated with a higher rate of death.
VCFs affect an estimated 25% of women over age 50 years and 40% of women over age 80 years. Only about 30% of these fractures are diagnosed in clinical practice. A Canadian multicentre osteoporosis study reported on the prevalence of vertebral deformity in Canada in people over 50 years of age. To define the limit of normality, they plotted a normal distribution, including mean and standard deviations (SDs) derived from a reference population without any deformity. They reported a prevalence rate of 23.5% in women and a rate of 21.5% in men, using 3 SDs from the mean as the limit of normality. When they used 4 SDs, the prevalence was 9.3% and 7.3%, respectively. They also found the prevalence of vertebral deformity increased with age. For people older than 80 years of age, the prevalence for women and men was 45% and 36%, respectively, using 3 SDs as the limit of normality.
About 85% of VCFs are due to primary osteoporosis. Secondary osteoporosis and neoplasms account for the remaining 15%. A VCF is operationally defined as a reduction in vertebral body height of at least 20% from the initial measurement. It is considered mild if the reduction in height is between 20% and 25%; moderate, if it is between 25% and 40%; and severs, if it is more than 40%. The most frequently fractured locations are the third-lower part of the thorax and the superior lumbar levels. The cervical vertebrae and the upper third of the thorax are rarely involved.
Traditionally, bed rest, medication, and bracing are used to treat painful VCFs. However, anti-inflammatory and narcotic medications are often poorly tolerated by the elderly and may harm the gastrointestinal tract. Bed rest and inactivity may accelerate bone loss, and bracing may restrict diaphragmatic movement. Furthermore, medical treatment does not treat the fracture in a way that ameliorates the pain and spinal deformity.
Over the past decade, the injection of bone cement through the skin into a fractured vertebral body has been used to treat VCFs. The goal of cement injection is to reduce pain by stabilizing the fracture. The secondary indication of these procedures is management of painful vertebral fractures caused by benign or malignant neoplasms (e.g., hemangioma, multiple myeloma, and metastatic cancer).
The Technology
Balloon kyphoplasty is a modified vertebroplasty technique. It is a minimally invasive procedure that aims to relieve pain, restore vertebral height, and correct kyphosis. During this procedure, an inflatable bone tamp is inserted into the collapsed vertebral body. Once inflated, the balloon elevates the end plates and thereby restores the height of the vertebral body. The balloon is deflated and removed, and the space is filled with bone cement. Creating a space in the vertebral body enables the application of more viscous cement and at a much lower pressure than is needed for vertebroplasty. This may result in less cement leakage and fewer complications. Balloons typically are inserted bilaterally, into each fractured vertebral body. Kyphoplasty usually is done under general anesthesia in about 1.5 hours. Patients typically are observed for only a few hours after the surgery, but some may require an overnight hospital stay.
Health Canada has licensed KyphX Xpander Inflatable Bone Tamp (Kyphon Inc., Sunnyvale, CA), for kyphoplasty in patients with VCFs. KyphX is the only commercially available device for percutaneous kyphoplasty. The KyphX kit uses a series of bone filler device tubes. Each bone filler device must be loaded manually with cement. The cement is injected into the cavity by pressing an inner stylet.
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration cleared the KyphX Inflatable Bone Tamp for marketing in July 1998. CE (Conformité European) marketing was obtained in February 2000 for the reduction of fracture and/or creation of a void in cancellous bone.
Review Strategy
The aim of this literature review was to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of balloon kyphoplasty in the treatment of painful VCFs.
INAHTA, Cochrane CCTR (formerly Cochrane Controlled Trials Register), and DSR were searched for health technology assessment reports. In addition, MEDLINE, EMBASE, and MEDLINE In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations were searched from January 1, 2000 to September 21, 2004. The search was limited to English-language articles and human studies.
The positive end points selected for this assessment were as follows:
Reduction in pain scores
Reduction in vertebral height loss
Reduction in kyphotic (Cobb) angle
Improvement in quality of life scores
The search did not yield any health technology assessments on balloon kyphoplasty. The search yielded 152 citations, including those for review articles. No randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on balloon kyphoplasty were identified. All of the published studies were either prospective cohort studies or retrospective studies with no controls. Eleven studies (all case series) met the inclusion criteria. There was also a comparative study published in German that had been translated into English.
Summary of Findings
The results of the 1 comparative study (level 3a evidence) that was included in this review showed that, compared with conservative medical care, balloon kyphoplasty significantly improved patient outcomes.
Patients who had balloon kyphoplasty reported a significant reduction in pain that was maintained throughout follow-up (6 months), whereas pain scores did not change in the control group. Patients in the balloon kyphoplasty group did not need pain medication after 3 days. In the control group, about one-half of the patients needed more pain medication in the first 4 weeks after the procedure. After 6 weeks, 82% of the patients in the control group were still taking pain medication regularly.
Adjacent fractures were more frequent in the control group than in the balloon kyphoplasty group.
The case series reported on several important clinical outcomes.
Pain: Four studies on osteoporosis patients and 1 study on patients with multiple myeloma/primary cancers used the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) to measure pain before and after balloon kyphoplasty. All of these studies reported that patients had significantly less pain after the procedure. This was maintained during follow-up. Two other studies on patients with osteoporosis also used the VAS to measure pain and found a significant improvement in pain scores; however, they did not provide follow-up data.
Vertebral body height: All 5 studies that assessed vertebral body height in patients with osteoporosis reported a significant improvement in vertebral body height after balloon kyphoplasty. One study had 1-year follow-up data for 26 patients. Vertebral body height was significantly better at 6 months and 1 year for both the anterior and midline measurements.
Two studies reported that vertebral body height was restored significantly after balloon kyphoplasty for patients with multiple myeloma or metastatic disease. In another study, the researchers reported complete height restoration in 9% of patients, a mean 56% height restoration in 60% of patients, and no appreciable height restoration in 31% of the patients who received balloon kyphoplasty.
Kyphosis correction: Four studies that assessed Cobb angle before and after balloon kyphoplasty in patients with osteoporosis found a significant reduction in degree of kyphosis after the procedure. In these studies, the differences between preoperative and postoperative Cobb angles were 3.4°, 7°, 8.8°, and 9.9°.
Only 1 study investigated kyphosis correction in patients with multiple myeloma or metastatic disease. The authors reported a significant improvement (5.2°) in local kyphosis.
Quality of life: Four studies used the Short Form 36 (SF-36) Health Survey Questionnaire to measure the quality of life in patients with osteoporosis after they had balloon kyphoplasty. A significant improvement in most of the domains of the SF-36 (bodily pain, social functioning, vitality, physical functioning, mental health, and role functioning) was observed in 2 studies. One study found that general health declined, although not significantly, and another found that role emotional declined.
Both studies that used the Oswestry Disability Index found that patients had a better quality of life after balloon kyphoplasty. In one study, this improvement was statistically significant. In another study, researchers found that quality of life after kyphoplasty improved significantly, as measured with the Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire. Yet another study used a quality of life questionnaire and found that 62% of the patients that had balloon kyphoplasty had returned to normal activities, whereas 2 patients had reduced mobility.
To measure quality of life in patients with multiple myeloma or metastatic disease, one group of researchers used the SF-36 and found significantly better scores on bodily pain, physical functioning, vitality, and social functioning after kyphoplasty. However, the scores for general health, mental health, role physical, and role emotional had not improved. A study that used the Oswestry Disability Index reported that patients’ scores were better postoperatively and at 3 months follow-up.
These were the main findings on complications in patients with osteoporosis:
The bone cement leaked in 37 (6%) of 620 treated fractures.
There were no reports of neurological deficits.
There were no reports of pulmonary embolism due to cement leakage.
There were 6 cases of cardiovascular events in 362 patients:
3 (0.8%) patients had myocardial infarction.
3 (0.8%) patients had cardiac arrhythmias.
There was 1 (0.27%) case of pulmonary embolism due to deep venous thrombosis.
There were 20 (8.4%) cases of new fractures in 238 patients.
For patients with multiple myeloma or metastatic disease, these were the main findings:
The bone cement leaked in 12 (9.6%) of 125 procedures.
There were no reports of neurological deficits.
Economic Analysis
Balloon kyphoplasty requires anesthesia. Standard vertebroplasty requires sedation and an analgesic. Based on these considerations, the professional fees (Cdn) for each procedure is shown in Table 1.
Professional Fees for Standard Vertebroplasty and Balloon Kyphoplasty
Balloon kyphoplasty has a sizable device cost add-on of $3,578 (the device cost per case) that standard vertebroplasty does not have. Therefore, the up-front cost (i.e., physician’s fees and device costs) is $187 for standard vertebroplasty and $3,812 for balloon kyphoplasty. (All costs are in Canadian currency.)
There are also “downstream costs” of the procedures, based on the different adverse outcomes associated with each. This includes the risk of developing new fractures (21% for vertebroplasty vs. 8.4% for balloon kyphoplasty), neurological complications (3.9% for vertebroplasty vs. 0% for balloon kyphoplasty), pulmonary embolism (0.1% for vertebroplasty vs. 0% for balloon kyphoplasty), and cement leakage (26.5% for vertebroplasty vs. 6.0% for balloon kyphoplasty). Accounting for these risks, and the base costs to treat each of these complications, the expected downstream costs are estimated at less than $500 per case. Therefore, the expected total direct medical cost per patient is about $700 for standard vertebroplasty and $4,300 for balloon kyphoplasty.
Kyphon, the manufacturer of the inflatable bone tamps has stated that the predicted Canadian incidence of osteoporosis in 2005 is about 29,000. The predicted incidence of cancer-related vertebral fractures in 2005 is 6,731. Based on Ontario having about 38% of the Canadian population, the incidence in the province is likely to be about 11,000 for osteoporosis and 2,500 for cancer-related vertebral fractures. This means there could be as many as 13,500 procedures per year in Ontario; however, this is highly unlikely because most of the cancer-related fractures likely would be treated with medication. Given a $3,600 incremental direct medical cost associated with balloon kyphoplasty, the budget impact of adopting this technology could be as high as $48.6 million per year; however, based on data from the Provider Services Branch, about 120 standard vertebroplasties are done in Ontario annually. Given these current utilization patterns, the budget impact is likely to be in the range of $430,000 per year. This is because of the sizable device cost add-on of $3,578 (per case) for balloon kyphoplasty that standard vertebroplasty does not have.
Policy Considerations
Other treatments for osteoporotic VCFs are medical management and open surgery. In cases without neurological involvement, the medical treatment of osteoporotic VCFs comprises bed rest, orthotic management, and pain medication. However, these treatments are not free of side effects. Bed rest over time can result in more bone and muscle loss, and can speed the deterioration of the underlying condition. Medication can lead to altered mood or mental status. Surgery in these patients has been limited because of its inherent risks and invasiveness, and the poor quality of osteoporotic bones. However, it may be indicated in patients with neurological deficits.
Neither of these vertebral augmentation procedures eliminates the need for aggressive treatment of osteoporosis. Osteoporotic VCFs are often under-diagnosed and under-treated. A survey of physicians in Ontario (1) who treated elderly patients living in long-term care homes found that although these physicians were aware of the rates of osteoporosis in these patients, 45% did not routinely assess them for osteoporosis, and 26% did not routinely treat them for osteoporosis.
Management of the underlying condition that weakens the vertebral bodies should be part of the treatment plan. All patients with osteoporosis should be in a medical therapy program to treat the underlying condition, and the referring health care provider should monitor the clinical progress of the patient.
The main complication associated with vertebroplasty and balloon kyphoplasty is cement leakage (extravertebral or vascular). This may result in more patient morbidity, longer hospitalizations, the need for open surgery, and the use of pain medications, all of which have related costs. Extravertebral cement leakage can cause neurological complications, like spinal cord compression, nerve root compression, and radiculopathy. In some cases, surgery is required to remove the cement and release the nerve. The rate of cement leakage is much lower after balloon kyphoplasty than after vertebroplasty. Furthermore, the neurological complications seen with vertebroplasty have not seen in the studies of balloon kyphoplasty. Rarely, cement leakage into the venous system will cause a pulmonary embolism. Finally, compared with vertebroplasty, the rate of new fractures is lower after balloon kyphoplasty.
Diffusion – International, National, Provincial
In Canada, balloon kyphoplasty has not yet been funded in any of the provinces. The first balloon kyphoplasty performed in Canada was in July 2004 in Ontario.
In the United States, the technology is considered by some states as medically reasonable and necessary for the treatment of painful vertebral body compression fractures.
There is level 4 evidence that balloon kyphoplasty to treat pain associated with VCFs due to osteoporosis is as effective as vertebroplasty at relieving pain. Furthermore, the evidence suggests that it restores the height of the affected vertebra. It also results in lower fracture rates in other vertebrae compared with vertebroplasty, and in fewer neurological complications due to cement leakage compared with vertebroplasty. Balloon kyphoplasty is a reasonable alternative to vertebroplasty, although it must be reiterated that this conclusion is based on evidence from level 4 studies.
Balloon kyphoplasty should be restricted to facilities that have sufficient volumes to develop and maintain the expertise required to maximize good quality outcomes. Therefore, consideration should be given to limiting the number of facilities in the province that can do balloon kyphoplasty.
PMCID: PMC3387743  PMID: 23074451
3.  Protocol for the Osteoporosis Choice trial. A pilot randomized trial of a decision aid in primary care practice 
Trials  2009;10:113.
Bisphosphonates can reduce fracture risk in patients with osteoporosis, but many at-risk patients do not start or adhere to these medications. The aims of this study are to: (1) preliminarily evaluate the effect of an individualized 10-year osteoporotic fracture risk calculator and decision aid (OSTEOPOROSIS CHOICE) for postmenopausal women at risk for osteoporotic fractures; and (2) assess the feasibility and validity (i.e., absence of contamination) of patient-level randomization (vs. cluster randomization) in pilot trials of decision aid efficacy.
This is a protocol for a parallel, 2-arm, randomized trial to compare an intervention group receiving OSTEOPOROSIS CHOICE to a control group receiving usual primary care. Postmenopausal women with bone mineral density T-scores of <-1.0, not receiving bisphosphonate therapy, and receiving care at participating primary care practices in and around Rochester, Minnesota, USA will be eligible to participate in the trial. We will measure the effect of OSTEOPOROSIS CHOICE on five outcomes: (a) patient knowledge regarding osteoporosis risk factors and treatment; (b) quality of the decision-making process for both the patient and clinician; (c) patient and clinician acceptability and satisfaction with the decision aid; (d) rate of bisphosphonate use and adherence, and (e) trial processes (e.g., ability to recruit participants, collect patient outcomes). To capture these outcomes, we will use patient and clinician surveys following each visit and video recordings of the clinical encounters. These video recordings will also allow us to determine the extent to which clinicians previously exposed to the decision aid were able to recreate elements of the decision aid with control patients (i.e., contamination). Pharmacy prescription profiles and follow-up phone interviews will assess medication start and adherence at 6 months.
This pilot trial will provide evidence of feasibility, validity of patient randomization, and preliminary efficacy of a novel approach -- decision aids -- to improving medication adherence for postmenopausal women at risk of osteoporotic fractures. The results will inform the design of a larger trial that could provide more precise estimates of the efficacy of the decision aid.
Trial registration
Clinical Identifier: NCT00578981
PMCID: PMC2796658  PMID: 20003299
4.  Medical treatment of vertebral osteoporosis 
European Spine Journal  2003;12(Suppl 2):S132-S141.
Although osteoporosis is a systemic disease, vertebral fractures due to spinal bone loss are a frequent, sometimes early and often neglected complication of the disease, generally associated with considerable disability and pain. As osteoporotic vertebral fractures are an important predictor of future fracture risk, including at the hip, medical management is targeted at reducing fracture risk. A literature search for randomized, double-blind, prospective, controlled clinical studies addressing medical treatment possibilities of vertebral fractures in postmenopausal Caucasian women was performed on the leading medical databases. For each publication, the number of patients with at least one new vertebral fracture and the number of randomized patients by treatment arm was retrieved. The relative risk (RR) and the number needed to treat (NNT, i.e. the number of patients to be treated to avoid one radiological vertebral fracture over the duration of the study), together with the respective 95% confidence intervals (95%CI) were calculated for each study. Treatment of steroid-induced osteoporosis and treatment of osteoporosis in men were reviewed separately, based on the low number of publications available. Forty-five publications matched with the search criteria, allowing for analysis of 15 different substances tested regarding their anti-fracture efficacy at the vertebral level. Bisphosphonates, mainly alendronate and risedronate, were reported to have consistently reduced the risk of a vertebral fracture over up to 50 months of treatment in four (alendronate) and two (risedronate) publications. Raloxifene reduced vertebral fracture risk in one study over 36 months, which was confirmed by 48 months' follow-up data. Parathormone (PTH) showed a drastic reduction in vertebral fracture risk in early studies, while calcitonin may also be a treatment option to reduce fracture risk. For other substances published data are conflicting (calcitriol, fluoride) or insufficient to conclude about efficacy (calcium, clodronate, etidronate, hormone replacement therapy, pamidronate, strontium, tiludronate, vitamin D). The low NNTs for the leading substances (ranges: 15–64 for alendronate, 8–26 for risedronate, 23 for calcitonin and 28–31 for raloxifene) confirm that effective and efficient drug interventions for treatment and prevention of osteoporotic vertebral fractures are available. Bisphosphonates have demonstrated similar efficacy in treatment and prevention of steroid-induced and male osteoporosis as in postmenopausal osteoporosis. The selection of the appropriate drug for treatment of vertebral osteoporosis from among a bisphosphonate (alendronate or risedronate), PTH, calcitonin or raloxifene will mainly depend on the efficacy, tolerability and safety profile, together with the patient's willingness to comply with a long-term treatment. Although reduction of vertebral fracture risk is an important criterion for decision making, drugs with proven additional fracture risk reduction at all clinically relevant sites (especially at the hip) should be the preferred options.
PMCID: PMC3591820  PMID: 13680313
Review; Medical treatment; Vertebral fractures; Osteoporosis; Relative risk reduction; Number needed to treat
5.  Percutaneous Vertebroplasty for Treatment of Painful Osteoporotic Vertebral Compression Fractures 
Executive Summary
Objective of Analysis
The objective of this analysis is to examine the safety and effectiveness of percutaneous vertebroplasty for treatment of osteoporotic vertebral compression fractures (VCFs) compared with conservative treatment.
Clinical Need and Target Population
Osteoporosis and associated fractures are important health issues in ageing populations. Vertebral compression fracture secondary to osteoporosis is a cause of morbidity in older adults. VCFs can affect both genders, but are more common among elderly females and can occur as a result of a fall or a minor trauma. The fracture may occur spontaneously during a simple activity such as picking up an object or rising up from a chair. Pain originating from the fracture site frequently increases with weight bearing. It is most severe during the first few weeks and decreases with rest and inactivity.
Traditional treatment of painful VCFs includes bed rest, analgesic use, back bracing and muscle relaxants. The comorbidities associated with VCFs include deep venous thrombosis, acceleration of osteopenea, loss of height, respiratory problems and emotional problems due to chronic pain.
Percutaneous vertebroplasty is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that has gained popularity as a new treatment option in the care for these patients. The technique of vertebroplasty was initially developed in France to treat osteolytic metastasis, myeloma, and hemangioma. The indications were further expanded to painful osteoporotic VCFs and subsequently to treatment of asymptomatic VCFs.
The mechanism of pain relief, which occurs within minutes to hours after vertebroplasty, is still not known. Pain pathways in the surrounding tissue appear to be altered in response to mechanical, chemical, vascular, and thermal stimuli after the injection of the cement. It has been suggested that mechanisms other than mechanical stabilization of the fracture, such as thermal injury to the nerve endings, results in immediate pain relief.
Percutaneous Vertebroplasty
Percutaneous vertebroplasty is performed with the patient in prone position and under local or general anesthesia. The procedure involves fluoroscopic imaging to guide the injection of bone cement into the fractured vertebral body to support the fractured bone. After injection of the cement, the patient is placed in supine position for about 1 hour while the cement hardens.
Cement leakage is the most frequent complication of vertebroplasty. The leakages may remain asymptomatic or cause symptoms of nerve irritation through compression of nerve roots. There are several reports of pulmonary cement embolism (PCE) following vertebroplasty. In some cases, the PCE may remain asymptomatic. Symptomatic PCE can be recognized by their clinical signs and symptoms such as chest pain, dyspnea, tachypnea, cyanosis, coughing, hemoptysis, dizziness, and sweating.
Research Methods
Literature Search
A literature search was performed on Feb 9, 2010 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published from January 1, 2005 to February 9, 2010.
Studies were initially reviewed by titles and abstracts. For those studies meeting the eligibility criteria, full-text articles were obtained and reviewed. Reference lists were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the search. Articles with an unknown eligibility were reviewed with a second clinical epidemiologist and then a group of epidemiologists until consensus was established. Data extraction was carried out by the author.
Inclusion Criteria
Study design: Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing vertebroplasty with a control group or other interventions
Study population: Adult patients with osteoporotic vertebral fractures
Study sample size: Studies included 20 or more patients
English language full-reports
Published between Jan 1 2005 and Feb 9, 2010
(eligible studies identified through the Auto Alert function of the search were also included)
Exclusion Criteria
Non-randomized studies
Studies on conditions other than VCF (e.g. patients with multiple myeloma or metastatic tumors)
Studies focused on surgical techniques
Studies lacking outcome measures
Results of Evidence-Based Analysis
A systematic search yielded 168 citations. The titles and the abstracts of the citations were reviewed and full text of the identified citations was retrieved for further consideration. Upon review of the full publications and applying the inclusion and exclusion criteria, 5 RCTs were identified. Of these, two compared vertebroplasty with sham procedure, two compared vertebroplasty with conservative treatment, and one compared vertebroplasty with balloon kyphoplasty.
Randomized Controlled Trials
Recently, the results of two blinded randomized placebo-controlled trials of percutaneous vertebroplasty were reported. These trials, providing the highest quality of evidence available to date, do not support the use of vertebroplasty in patients with painful osteoporotic vertebral compression fractures. Based on the results of these trials, vertebroplasty offer no additional benefit over usual care and is not risk free.
In these trials the treatment allocation was blinded to the patients and outcome assessors. The control group received a sham procedure simulating vertebroplasty to minimize the effect of expectations and to reduce the potential for bias in self-reporting of outcomes. Both trials applied stringent exclusion criteria so that the results are generalizable to the patient populations that are candidates for vertebroplasty. In both trials vertebroplasty procedures were performed by highly skilled interventionists. Multiple valid outcome measures including pain, physical, mental, and social function were employed to test the between group differences in outcomes.
Prior to these two trials, there were two open randomized trials in which vertebroplasty was compared with conservative medical treatment. In the first randomized trial, patients were allowed to cross over to the other arm and had to be stopped after two weeks due to the high numbers of patients crossing over. The other study did not allow cross over and recently published the results of 12 months follow-up.
The following is the summary of the results of these 4 trials:
Two blinded RCTs on vertebroplasty provide the highest level of evidence available to date. Results of these two trials are supported by findings of an open randomized trial with 12 months follow-up. Blinded RCTs showed:
No significant differences in pain scores of patients who received vertebroplasty and patients who received a sham procedure as measured at 3 days, 2 weeks and 1 month in one study and at 1 week, 1 month, 3 months, and 6 months in the other.
The observed differences in pain scores between the two groups were neither statistically significant nor clinically important at any time points.
The above findings were consistent with the findings of an open RCT in which patients were followed for 12 months. This study showed that improvement in pain was similar between the two groups at 3 months and were sustained to 12 months.
In the blinded RCTs, physical, mental, and social functioning were measured at the above time points using 4-5 of the following 7 instruments: RDQ, EQ-5D, SF-36 PCS, SF-36 MCS, AQoL, QUALEFFO, SOF-ADL
There were no significant differences in any of these measures between patients who received vertebroplasty and patients who received a sham procedure at any of the above time points (with a few exceptions in favour of control intervention).
These findings were also consistent with the findings of an open RCT which demonstrated no significant between group differences in scores of ED-5Q, SF-36 PCS, SF 36 MCS, DPQ, Barthel, and MMSE which measure physical, mental, and social functioning (with a few exceptions in favour of control intervention).
One small (n=34) open RCT with a two week follow-up detected a significantly higher improvement in pain scores at 1 day after the intervention in vertebroplasty group compared with conservative treatment group. However, at 2 weeks follow-up, this difference was smaller and was not statistically significant.
Conservative treatment was associated with fewer clinically important complications
Risk of new VCFs following vertebroplasty was higher than those in conservative treatment but it requires further investigation.
PMCID: PMC3377535  PMID: 23074396
6.  Determinants of fracture risk in a UK-population-based cohort of older women: a cross-sectional analysis of the Cohort for Skeletal Health in Bristol and Avon (COSHIBA) 
Age and Ageing  2011;41(1):46-52.
Background: identification of individuals with high fracture risk from within primary care is complex. It is likely that the true contribution of falls to fracture risk is underestimated.
Methods: cross-sectional analysis of a population-based cohort of 3,200 post-menopausal women aged 73 ± 4 years. Self-reported data were collected on fracture, osteoporosis clinical risk factors and falls/mobility risk factors. Self-reported falls were compared with recorded falls on GP computerised records. Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify independent risk factors for fracture.
Results: a total of 838 (26.2%) reported a fracture after aged 50; 441 reported falling more than once per year, but 69% of these had no mention of falls on their computerised GP records. Only age [odds ratios (OR): 1.37 per 5 year increase, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.23–1.53], height (1.02 per cm increase, 95% CI: 1.01–1.04), weight (OR: 0.99 per kg increase, 95% CI: 0.98–0.99) and falls (OR: 1.49 for more than once per year compared with less, 95% CI: 1.13–1.94) were independent risk factors for fracture. Falls had the strongest association.
Conclusion: when identifying individuals with high fracture risk we estimate that more than one fall per year is at least twice as important as height and weight. Furthermore, using self-reported falls data is essential as computerised GP records underestimate falls prevalence.
PMCID: PMC3234077  PMID: 22107913
fractures; falls; COSHIBA; FRAX; cohort study; elderly
7.  The Fracture Unit Model. A Model for Implementation in Italy: “Multidisciplinary Approach for the Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporotic Vertebral Compression Fractures: VCF Unit” 
Reduced BMD is a risk factor for vertebral fractures (VFs). Every one SD increase in BMD is associated with a 2- to 2.5-fold increase in the risk of VFs. The presence of a previous fracture, vertebral or of other districts, is another important predictor of an increased risk of future fractures, independently of the association between BMD and fracture risk. Thus, the presence of both a low BMD and a previous fracture dramatically increases fracture risk. The definition of osteopo-rotic VFs has undergone considerable variations over the years, going from initial clinical sign of OP, through the now superseded definition of VFs as a disease, to a complication of OP resulting from bone fragility. The prevalence of VFs increases with age in both sexes, and it is calculated that at the age of 80 years, 37% of Caucasian women will have at least one radiographically evident VF. It has been estimated, again in Caucasian women, that the percentage incidence of fractures is 0.5% in those aged 50-55 years, 1.4% in those aged 65-69 years, and over 2% in women older than 75. However, two factors prevent an accurate assessment of the epidemiology of VFs. First, most VFs escape clinical diagnosis. Second, the absence of a “gold standard” radiographic definition of VFs has given rise to different ways of defining these lesions. VFs are rarely a cause of mortality, but they are associated with increased impairment of general conditions. Recurrent VFs have irreversible clinical consequences, such as reduction of height and chronic vertebral pain, which provoke an intensification of the pain and a greater degree of disability due to accentuation of kyphosis. The presence of VFs and kyphosis leads to a reduced thoracic volume and, consequently, to a loss of lung volume, in some cases severe enough to result in respiratory insufficiency. The consequences of the intense pain are: reduced range of motion, loss of balance, slowed gait and greater difficulty carrying out normal daily activities. In rare cases, lower limb pain and weakness may appear, caused by compression of the spinal medulla by the deformed vertebral body. The main aim of treatment is to restore the patient to his/her pre-trauma levels of functioning. This can be achieved through recourse to mini-invasive percutaneous techniques, vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty, with the aim of reducing the pain caused by osteo-porotic vertebral compression fractures, of preventing progression of the vertebral collapse and of rapidly re-establishing functional activity. Most fracture patients are discharged without undergoing a thorough bone metabolism assessment that could identify the causal factor of the fracture. In a high percentage (up to 95%) of patients with recent fractures, BMD is not measured and, therefore, a diagnosis of OP is not made. Consequently, these patients are not prescribed drugs capable of effectively reducing the risk of further fractures. Specialist orthopaedic centres need to introduce protocols designed to ensure application of the current procedures for diagnosing and treating OP.
On the basis of these considerations, we undertook to develop, in collaboration with the Department of Specialist Surgical Sciences of the University of Florence, the Orthopaedics and Traumatology Units 1, 2 and 3, the Recovery and Functional Re-education Unit, the Neurosurgery Unit, and the third Radiodiagnostics Unit of the Careggi Hospital in Floren-ce, a protocol that involves a range of specialists in assessing the introduction of variable, outcome-targeted medical therapies for osteoporotic patients submitted to kyphoplasty following fragility fractures of the vertebra. To choose the appropriate medical therapy, and to monitor its effects, the patients will be submitted to a series of clinical investigations. The “appropriate” therapy could include calcium and vitamin D supplementation, biphosphonates, SERMs, bone anabolic agents and combinations of drugs. The safety of the medical therapy and any adverse effects will be monitored at each follow-up visit through an appropriate questionnaire. This study aims to compare the outcomes of the group following a traditional pathway with those following a modified pathway (prescription of a targeted medical therapy), by means of metabolic, instrumental and functional tests performed at 2 months, 6 months, 1 year and 2 years. The general aim of the study will be to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a modified versus a traditional pathway in the care of osteoporotic patients undergoing kyphoplasty for VFs. The primary endpoint of the study will be the percentage of successes in the modified compared with the traditional pathway group. Secondary endpoints will be: change in femoral and lumbar BMD, changes in biochemical markers of bone remodelling and quality of life, assessment of safety parameters: overall and symptomatic cement leakage, pulmonary embolism, spinal medulla compression, radicular pain, radiculopathies and assessment of total procedure-related, cement-related and access-related adverse events. The ultimate aim of the study will be to prepare guidelines for the management, in terms of metabolic diagnosis and relative medical therapy, of patients with OP complicated by VFs.
PMCID: PMC3213825
8.  Treatment of primary osteoporosis in men 
With the aging of the population worldwide, osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures are becoming a serious health care issue in the Western world. Although less frequent than in women, osteoporosis in men is a relatively common problem. Hip and vertebral fractures are particularly relevant, being associated with significant mortality and disability. Since bone loss and fragility fractures in men have been recognized as serious medical conditions, several randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have been undertaken in males with osteoporosis to investigate the anti-fracture efficacy of the pharmacological agents commonly used to treat postmenopausal osteoporosis. Overall, treatments for osteoporosis in men are less defined than in women, mainly due to the fact that there are fewer RCTs performed in male populations, to the relatively smaller sample sizes, and to the lack of long-term extension studies. However, the key question is whether men are expected to respond differently to osteoporosis therapies than women. The pharmacological properties of bisphosphonates, teriparatide, denosumab, and strontium ranelate make such differentiation unlikely, and available clinical data support their efficacy in men with primary osteoporosis as well as in women. In a series of well-designed RCTs, alendronate, risedronate, zoledronic acid, and teriparatide were demonstrated to reduce the risk of new vertebral fractures in men presenting with primary osteoporosis (including osteoporosis associated with low testosterone levels) and to improve the bone mineral density (BMD). In preliminary studies, ibandronate, denosumab, and strontium ranelate also showed their beneficial effects on surrogate outcomes (BMD and markers of bone turnover) in men with osteoporosis. Although direct evidence about their non-vertebral anti-fracture efficacy are lacking, the effects of bisphosphonates, denosumab, teriparatide, and strontium ranelate on surrogate outcomes (BMD and markers of bone turnover) were similar to those reported in pivotal RCTs undertaken in postmenopausal women, in which vertebral and non-vertebral anti-fracture efficacy have been clearly demonstrated. In conclusion, sufficient data exist to support the use of these pharmacological agents in men with primary osteoporosis. Further RCTs are warranted to establish their long-term efficacy and safety.
PMCID: PMC4283986  PMID: 25565793
bisphosphonates; teriparatide; denosumab; strontium ranelate
9.  Vitamin K Supplementation in Postmenopausal Women with Osteopenia (ECKO Trial): A Randomized Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(10):1-12.
Vitamin K has been widely promoted as a supplement for decreasing bone loss in postmenopausal women, but the long-term benefits and potential harms are unknown. This study was conducted to determine whether daily high-dose vitamin K1 supplementation safely reduces bone loss, bone turnover, and fractures.
Methods and Findings
This single-center study was designed as a 2-y randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial, extended for earlier participants for up to an additional 2 y because of interest in long-term safety and fractures. A total of 440 postmenopausal women with osteopenia were randomized to either 5 mg of vitamin K1 or placebo daily. Primary outcomes were changes in BMD at the lumbar spine and total hip at 2 y. Secondary outcomes included changes in BMD at other sites and other time points, bone turnover markers, height, fractures, adverse effects, and health-related quality of life. This study has a power of 90% to detect 3% differences in BMD between the two groups. The women in this study were vitamin D replete, with a mean serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level of 77 nmol/l at baseline. Over 2 y, BMD decreased by −1.28% and −1.22% (p = 0.84) (difference of −0.06%; 95% confidence interval [CI] −0.67% to 0.54%) at the lumbar spine and −0.69% and −0.88% (p = 0.51) (difference of 0.19%; 95% CI −0.37% to 0.75%) at the total hip in the vitamin K and placebo groups, respectively. There were no significant differences in changes in BMD at any site between the two groups over the 2- to 4-y period. Daily vitamin K1 supplementation increased serum vitamin K1 levels by 10-fold, and decreased the percentage of undercarboxylated osteocalcin and total osteocalcin levels (bone formation marker). However, C-telopeptide levels (bone resorption marker) were not significantly different between the two groups. Fewer women in the vitamin K group had clinical fractures (nine versus 20, p = 0.04) and fewer had cancers (three versus 12, p = 0.02). Vitamin K supplements were well-tolerated over the 4-y period. There were no significant differences in adverse effects or health-related quality of life between the two groups. The study was not powered to examine fractures or cancers, and their numbers were small.
Daily 5 mg of vitamin K1 supplementation for 2 to 4 y does not protect against age-related decline in BMD, but may protect against fractures and cancers in postmenopausal women with osteopenia. More studies are needed to further examine the effect of vitamin K on fractures and cancers.
Trial registration: (#NCT00150969) and Current Controlled Trials (#ISRCTN61708241)
Angela Cheung and colleagues investigate whether vitamin K1 can prevent bone loss among postmenopausal women with osteopenia.
Editors' Summary
Osteoporosis is a bone disease in which the bones gradually become less dense and more likely to break. In the US, 10 million people have osteoporosis and 18 million have osteopenia, a milder condition that precedes osteoporosis. In both conditions, insufficient new bone is made and/or too much old bone is absorbed. Although bone appears solid and unchanging, very little bone in the human body is more than 10 y old. Old bone is continually absorbed and new bone built using calcium, phosphorous, and proteins. Because the sex hormones control calcium and phosphorous deposition in the bones and thus bone strength, the leading cause of osteoporosis in women is reduced estrogen levels after menopause. In men, an age-related decline in testosterone levels can cause osteoporosis. Most people discover they have osteoporosis only when they break a bone, but the condition can be diagnosed and monitored using bone mineral density (BMD) scans. Treatments can slow down or reverse bone loss (antiresorptive therapies) and some (bone formation therapies) can even make bone and build bone tissue.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although regular exercise and a healthy diet can help to keep bones strong, other ways of preventing osteoporosis are badly needed. Recently, the lay media has promoted vitamin K supplements as a way to reduce bone loss in postmenopausal women. Vitamin K (which is found mainly in leafy green vegetables) is required for a chemical modification of proteins called carboxylation. This modification is essential for the activity of three bone-building proteins. In addition, there is some evidence that low bone density and fractures are associated with a low vitamin K intake. However, little is known about the long-term benefits or harms of vitamin K supplements. In this study, the researchers investigate whether a high-dose daily vitamin K supplement can safely reduce bone loss, bone turnover, and fractures in postmenopausal women with osteopenia in a randomized controlled trial called the “Evaluation of the Clinical Use of Vitamin K Supplementation in Post-Menopausal Women With Osteopenia” (ECKO) trial.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In the study, 440 postmenopausal women with osteopenia were randomized to receive 5mg of vitamin K1 (the type of vitamin K in North American food; the recommended daily adult intake of vitamin K1 is about 0.1 mg) or an inactive tablet (placebo) daily for 2 y; 261 of the women continued their treatment for 2 y to gather information about the long-term effects of vitamin K1 supplementation. All the women had regular bone density scans of their lower back and hips and were examined for fractures and for changes in bone turnover. After 2 y and after 4 y, lower back and hip bone density measurements had decreased by similar amounts in both treatment groups. The women who took vitamin K1 had 10-fold higher amounts of vitamin K1 in their blood than the women who took placebo and lower amounts of a bone formation marker; the levels of a bone resorption marker were similar in both groups. Over the 4-y period, fewer women in the vitamin K group had fractures (nine versus 20 women in the placebo group), and fewer had cancer (three versus 12). Finally, vitamin K supplementation was well tolerated over the 4-y period and adverse health effects were similar in the two treatment groups.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that a high daily dose of vitamin K1 provides no protection against the age-related decline in bone density in postmenopausal women with osteopenia, but that vitamin K1 supplementation may protect against fractures and cancers in these women. The apparent contradiction between the effects of vitamin K1 on bone density and on fractures could mean that vitamin K1 supplements strengthen bone by changing factors other than bone density, e.g., by changing its fine structure rather than making it denser. However, because so few study participants had fractures, the difference in the fracture rate between the two treatment groups might have occurred by chance. Larger studies are therefore needed to examine the effect of vitamin K1 on fractures (and on cancer) and, until these are done, high-dose vitamin K1 supplementation should not be recommended for the prevention of osteoporosis.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases provides detailed information about osteoporosis (in English and Spanish) and links to other resources, including an interactive web tool called Check Up On Your Bones
MedlinePlus provides links to additional information about osteoporosis (in English and Spanish)
The MedlinePlus Encyclopedia has a page about vitamin K
The UK Food Standards Agency provides information about vitamin K
Full details about the ECKO trial are available on the Web site
The Canadian Task Force for Preventive Health Care provides recommendations on the prevention of osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures in postmenopausal women
Osteoporosis Canada provides information on current topics related to osteoporosis
PMCID: PMC2566998  PMID: 18922041
10.  Validation of an osteoporosis self-assessment tool to identify primary osteoporosis and new osteoporotic vertebral fractures in postmenopausal Chinese women in Beijing 
This study aimed to validate the effectiveness of the Osteoporosis Self-assessment Tool for Asians (OSTA) in identifying postmenopausal women at increased risk of primary osteoporosis and painful new osteoporotic vertebral fractures in a large selected Han Chinese population in Beijing.
We assessed the performance of the OSTA in 1201 women. Subjects with an OSTA index > -1 were classified as the low risk group, and those with an index ≤ -1 were classified as the increased risk group. Osteoporosis is defined by a T-score ≤ 2.5 standard deviations according to the WHO criteria. All painful, new vertebral fractures were identified by X-ray and MRI scans with correlating clinical signs and symptoms. We determined the sensitivity, specificity, and area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve for correctly selecting women with osteoporosis and painful new vertebral fractures.
Of the study subjects, 29.3% had osteoporosis, and the prevalence of osteoporosis increased progressively with age. The areas under the ROC curves of the OSTA index (cutoff = -1) to identify osteoporosis in the femoral neck, total hip, and lumbar spine were 0.824, 0.824, and 0.776, respectively. The sensitivity and specificity of the OSTA index (cutoff = -1) to identify osteoporosis in healthy women were 66% and 76%, respectively. With regard to painful new vertebral fractures, the area under the ROC curve relating the OSTA index (cutoff = -1) to new vertebral fractures was 0.812.
The OSTA may be a simple and effective tool for identifying the risk of osteoporosis and new painful osteoporotic vertebral fractures in Han Chinese women.
PMCID: PMC3848932  PMID: 24053509
Beijing; Women; Osteoporosis; Osteoporosis screening tool for Asians; Validation; Fracture
11.  Is long-term glucocorticoid therapy associated with a high prevalence of asymptomatic vertebral fractures? 
Chronic administration of glucocorticoids is associated with bone loss and increased fracture risk, particularly in the trabecular bone of the vertebrae.
To assess the prevalence of asymptomatic vertebral fractures in postmenopausal women undergoing long-term glucocorticoid therapy.
This was a multicenter, cross-sectional outpatient study of postmenopausal women. Inclusion criteria included age >45 years, glucocorticoid therapy for ≥6 months with a cumulative dose ≥1.35 g of a prednisone equivalent, and diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, polymyalgia rheumatica, other vasculitides or connective tissue diseases, asthma, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Patients with back pain, previous vertebral fracture, Paget’s disease, or using antiosteoporotic medication were excluded; however, calcium and vitamin D supplements were permitted. Participants underwent a medical interview that assessed socio-demographic factors, details of glucocorticoid therapy, and risk factors for osteoporosis. Health-related quality of life was evaluated with the European Foundation for Osteoporosis questionnaire. A back-function questionnaire rated the participants’ ability to perform activities of daily living. Vertebral fractures were identified from lateral and antero-posterior thoracolumbar radiographs. Hip and lumbar spine BMD were assessed by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry and quantitative ultrasound.
The primary outcome measure was the prevalence of asymptomatic vertebral fractures.
The study enrolled a total of 551 women (median age 65.2 years). Rheumatoid arthritis was the most common reason for glucocorticoid therapy (53.2%). One or more asymptomatic vertebral fractures were present in 37.02% of participants, whereas 14.42% had two or more fractures. A bimodal distribution of these fractures was observed, with peaks at the T7 and T11 thoracic vertebrae. The prevalence of asymptomatic vertebral fractures increased with age; 47.98% of participants ≥70 years of age presented with at least one fracture (P = 0.006). There was a strong association between polymyalgia rheumatica and fracture prevalence; 51.09% of affected patients had one or more fracture (P=0.012). When the data were adjusted for age, cumulative glucocorticoid dose, therapy duration, and fracture history, however, this association became weaker (43.20%), and was similar to the fracture prevalence of 43.36% observed in patients with other vasculitides or connective-tissue diseases. There was no correlation between fracture prevalence and cumulative glucocorticoid dose or therapy duration. Additionally, lumbar spine and hip BMD, calcaneal bone stiffness, and health-related quality of life were not associated with the number or severity of vertebral fractures. Time since menopause and history of nonvertebral fractures both showed a significant association with asymptomatic vertebral fracture (P<0.001 and P = 0.002, respectively). Back function score showed a modest association with the number of asymptomatic vertebral fractures.
A high prevalence of asymptomatic vertebral fractures was observed in postmenopausal women undergoing long-term glucocorticoid therapy, which suggests a need for careful evaluation of this patient subgroup.
PMCID: PMC2040103  PMID: 17237833
glucocorticoid; osteoporosis; postmenopausal; vertebral fracture
12.  P16 - Familial Fragility Fractures Correlate with Osteopenic And/Or Osteoporotic Status in Postmenopausal Women: Preliminary Results from the Prof Study 
Within the PROF (Prevention of Osteoporotic Fractures) project, i.e. a synergistic effort of researchers and clinicians aimed at preventing osteoporotic fractures in Southern Apulia (Salento), we analysed the correlation between familial fragility fractures and osteopenic/osteoporotic status in postmenopausal women.
In the years 2009–2010, we screened 5665 postmenopausal women (mean age 62 years, range 39 to 86) by quantitative ultrasound testing, at the heel or phalanx. Demographic and anamnestic data were recorded for all the patients, including BMI, nutrition, menopause, physical activity, previous fractures, familial fragility fractures. Three demineralisation categories were identified a priori: Demineralisation, when any T-score <−1.0 SD was observed; b) Severe demineralisation, whenever a T-score <−2.0 was observed, corresponding to a higher risk of fracture; c) Osteoporosis, whenever a T-score <−2.5±0.2 (for the heel) or T-score <−3.2±0.2 (for the phalanx) was observed. Descriptive statistical analyses were performed in order to assess the correlation between familial fragility fractures (any osteoporotic fracture occurring in patients’ relatives) and the osteopenic or osteoporotic status of the patients themselves.
Demineralisation was observed in 4487 patients out of 5665 (79%). Demineralisation corresponding to severe osteopenia or osteoporotic status was confirmed in 2823 women (50% of all the examined subjects); 846 patients (15%) were found to be osteoporotic. A total of 358 women reported a family history of fragility fractures: of these, 298 (83%) presented demineralisation – as defined by T-score <−1 – corresponding at least to an osteopenic status. In the subgroup of women with familial fragility fractures, a status of severe osteopenia or osteoporosis was diagnosed in 191 patients (53%), with 76 of them being frankly osteoporotic (21%).
The PROF study dataset suggests that the presence of familial fragility fractures correlates with osteopenic and/or osteoporotic status in postmenopausal women. This finding may be regarded as a flag alerting both GPs and specialist physicians to the need for an integrated/preventive approach in the relatives of patients with fragility fractures.
PMCID: PMC3213794
13.  The association between compliance and persistence with bisphosphonate therapy and fracture risk: A review 
Sub optimal levels of compliance and persistence with bisphosphonates are potentially compromising the reduction of post menopausal osteoporotic (PMO) fracture risk.
A structured literature search (1990–2006) was performed to identify primary research studies evaluating the relationship between compliance and persistence with bisphosphonates and post menopausal osteoporotic (PMO) fracture risk in clinical practice. Search criteria were: bisphosphonates; osteoporosis/osteopenia in postmenopausal women; all types of fractures; compliance and persistence.
Only two retrospective studies using prescription databases have specifically evaluated bisphosphonates.
A cohort study tracking 35,537 women reported that in those with a Medication Possession Ratio (MPR) of ≥80% over 24 months the risk of fracture was lower than in those with an MPR of <80% (8.5% v 10.7%, p < 0.001, Relative Risk Reduction (RRR) 21%). In women who persisted with treatment (refill gap <30 days) the risk of fracture was also lower (7.7% v 10.3%, p < 0.001, RRR 29%).
A nested case control study reported that 12 months persistence (refill gap <50% previous prescription (Rx) length) was associated with a 26% reduced risk of fracture (p < 0.05) and 24 months with a 32% reduced risk (p < 0.05).
Four other studies, not specific to bisphosphonates, reported that compliance ≥12 months decreased fracture risk by ~25%.
Sub optimal compliance and persistence with bisphosphonates is not providing the best possible protection against the risk of PMO fracture, however, more research is needed to delineate this relationship in clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC2094708  PMID: 17897451
14.  Factors associated with treatment of women with osteoporosis or osteopenia from a national survey 
BMC Women's Health  2012;12:1.
Health outcomes could be improved if women at high risk for osteoporotic fracture were matched to effective treatment. This study determined the extent to which treatment for osteoporosis/osteopenia corresponded to the presence of specific risk factors for osteoporotic fracture.
This retrospective analysis of the United States 2007 National Health and Wellness Survey included women age ≥ 40 years who reported having a diagnosis of osteoporosis (69% of 3276) or osteopenia (31% of 3276). Patients were stratified by whether they were or were not taking prescription treatment for osteoporosis/osteopenia. Using 34 patient characteristics as covariates, logistic regression was used to determine factors associated with treatment.
Current prescription treatment was reported by 1800 of 3276 (54.9%) women with osteoporosis/osteopenia. The following factors were associated with receiving prescription treatment: patient-reported diagnosis of osteoporosis (versus osteopenia); previous bone mineral density test; ≥ 2 fractures since age 50; older age; lower body mass index; better physical functioning; postmenopausal status; family history of osteoporosis; fewer comorbidities; prescription insurance coverage; higher total prescription count; higher ratio of prescription costs to monthly income; higher income; single status; previous visit to a rheumatologist or gynecologist; and 1 or 2 outpatient visits to healthcare provider (vs. none) in the prior 6 months. Glucocorticoid, tobacco, and daily alcohol use were risk factors for fracture that were not associated with treatment.
There is a mismatch between those women who could benefit from treatment for osteoporosis and those who are actually treated. For example, self-reported use of glucocorticoids, tobacco, and alcohol were not associated with prescription treatment of osteoporosis. Other clinical and socioeconomic factors were associated with treatment (e.g. prescription drug coverage and higher income) or not (e.g. comorbid osteoarthritis and anxiety) and could be opportunities to improve care.
PMCID: PMC3295701  PMID: 22225919
15.  Predicting risk of osteoporotic fracture in men and women in England and Wales: prospective derivation and validation of QFractureScores 
Objective To develop and validate two new fracture risk algorithms (QFractureScores) for estimating the individual risk of osteoporotic fracture or hip fracture over 10 years.
Design Prospective open cohort study with routinely collected data from 357 general practices to develop the scores and from 178 practices to validate the scores.
Setting General practices in England and Wales.
Participants 1 183 663 women and 1 174 232 men aged 30-85 in the derivation cohort, who contributed 7 898 208 and 8 049 306 person years of observation, respectively. There were 24 350 incident diagnoses of osteoporotic fracture in women and 7934 in men, and 9302 incident diagnoses of hip fracture in women and 5424 in men.
Main outcome measures First (incident) diagnosis of osteoporotic fracture (vertebral, distal radius, or hip) and incident hip fracture recorded in general practice records.
Results Use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), age, body mass index (BMI), smoking status, recorded alcohol use, parental history of osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, tricyclic antidepressants, corticosteroids, history of falls, menopausal symptoms, chronic liver disease, gastrointestinal malabsorption, and other endocrine disorders were significantly and independently associated with risk of osteoporotic fracture in women. Some variables were significantly associated with risk of osteoporotic fracture but not with risk of hip fracture. The predictors for men for osteoporotic and hip fracture were age, BMI, smoking status, recorded alcohol use, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, tricyclic antidepressants, corticosteroids, history of falls, and liver disease. The hip fracture algorithm had the best performance among men and women. It explained 63.94% of the variation in women and 63.19% of the variation in men. The D statistic values for discrimination were highest for hip fracture in women (2.73) and men (2.68) and were over twice the magnitude of the corresponding values for osteoporotic fracture. The ROC statistics for hip fracture were also high: 0.89 in women and 0.86 for men versus 0.79 and 0.69, respectively, for the osteoporotic fracture outcome. The algorithms were well calibrated with predicted risks closely matching observed risks. The QFractureScore for hip fracture also had good performance for discrimination and calibration compared with the FRAX (fracture risk assessment) algorithm.
Conclusions These new algorithms can predict risk of fracture in primary care populations in the UK without laboratory measurements and are therefore suitable for use in both clinical settings and for self assessment ( QFractureScores could be used to identify patients at high risk of fracture who might benefit from interventions to reduce their risk.
PMCID: PMC2779855  PMID: 19926696
16.  Fracture risk assessment in postmenopausal women referred to an Italian center for osteoporosis: a single day experience in Messina 
Osteoporosis is a major cause of fragility fractures and these are responsible of large social burden; nevertheless, osteoporosis often remains an underdiagnosed disease.
FRAX is a new and simple validate fracture risk assessment tool helping physicians to select patients at high risk of future fragility fractures.
To promote early diagnosis of osteoporosis, we evaluated fracture risk by FRAX and performed phalangeal quantitative ultrasound (QUS) measurements in a population of postmenopausal women referring to our center during the World Osteoporosis Day on 20th October 2011.
Eighty post-menopausal women (age 60.8±8.6) were screened and the risk of major osteoporotic and hip fractures over ten years was calculated by considering multiple clinical risk factors (CRFs). The median risk of major osteoporotic fracture (%) was 4.9 (3.5–8.6) in women younger than 55 years, 7.3 (5.4–11) in women aged between 55 and 65 years and 17.5 (11–27) in women older than 65 years; the median risk of hip fracture (%) was 0.6 (0.3–1.3), 1.5 (0.9–2.5) and 7.2 (3.1–14) respectively. QUS measurements, were lower in the older women and when multiple CRFs coexisted, and were found to correlate with fracture risk, especially with hip fracture risk (p<0.05).
Within one month from the screening, 75% (44/59) of the women over 55 years came back and received a diagnosis of osteoporosis/osteopenia by dual x-ray absorptiometry (DXA); a positive association between DXA and QUS measurements was observed (p<0.0001).
Adequate treatment of these subjects could reduce fracture rates, improve the quality of life, and reduce the social costs of osteoporosis.
PMCID: PMC3917582  PMID: 24554930
osteoporosis; fragility fractures; prevention; FRAX; quantitative ultrasound
17.  Factors influencing diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis after a fragility fracture among postmenopausal women in Asian countries: a retrospective study 
BMC Women's Health  2013;13:7.
A vast amount of literature describes the incidence of fracture as a risk for recurrent osteoporotic fractures in western and Asian countries. Osteoporosis evaluation and treatment after a low-trauma fracture, however, has not been well characterized in postmenopausal women in Asia. The purpose of this study was to characterize patient and health system characteristics associated with the diagnosis and management of osteoporosis among postmenopausal women hospitalized with a fragility fracture in Asia.
Patient surveys and medical charts of postmenopausal women (N=1,122) discharged after a fragility hip fracture from treatment centers in mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Thailand between July 1, 2006 and June 30, 2007 were reviewed for bone mineral density (BMD) measurement, osteoporosis diagnosis, and osteoporosis treatment.
The mean (SD) age was 72.9 (11.5) years. A BMD measurement was reported by 28.2% of patients, 51.5% were informed that they had osteoporosis, and 33.0% received prescription medications for osteoporosis in the 6 months after discharge. Using multivariate logistic regression analyses, prior history of fracture decreased the odds of a BMD measurement (OR 0.63, 95% CI 0.45-0.88). Having a BMD measurement increased the odds of osteoporosis diagnosis (OR 10.1, 95% CI 6.36-16.0), as did having health insurance (OR 4.95, 95% CI 1.51-16.21 for private insurance with partial self-payment relative to 100% self-payment). A history of fracture was not independently associated with an osteoporosis diagnosis (OR 0.80, 95% CI 0.56-1.15). Younger age reduced the odds of receiving medication for osteoporosis (OR 0.59, 95% CI 0.36-0.96 relative to age ≥65), while having a BMD measurement increased the odds (OR 1.79, 95% CI 1.23-2.61).
Osteoporosis diagnosis and treatment in Asian countries were driven by BMD measurement but not by fracture history. Future efforts should emphasize education of general practitioners and patients about the importance of fracture.
PMCID: PMC3637813  PMID: 23410131
Osteoporosis; Bone density; Female; Fractures; Asia
18.  Implications of expanding indications for drug treatment to prevent fracture in older men in United States: cross sectional and longitudinal analysis of prospective cohort study 
Objectives To quantify incremental effects of applying different criteria to identify men who are candidates for drug treatment to prevent fracture and to examine the extent to which fracture probabilities vary across distinct categories of men defined by these criteria.
Design Cross sectional and longitudinal analysis of a prospective cohort study.
Setting Multicenter Osteoporotic Fractures in Men (MrOS) study in the United States.
Participants 5880 untreated community dwelling men aged 65 years or over classified into four distinct groups: osteoporosis by World Health Organization criteria alone; osteoporosis by National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) but not WHO criteria; no osteoporosis but at high fracture risk (at or above NOF derived FRAX intervention thresholds recommended for US); and no osteoporosis and at low fracture risk (below NOF derived FRAX intervention thresholds recommended for US).
Main outcome measures Proportion of men identified for drug treatment; predicted 10 year probabilities of hip and major osteoporotic fracture calculated using FRAX algorithm with femoral neck bone mineral density; observed 10 year probabilities for confirmed incident hip and major osteoporotic (hip, clinical vertebral, wrist, or humerus) fracture events calculated using cumulative incidence estimation, accounting for competing risk of mortality.
Results 130 (2.2%) men were identified as having osteoporosis by using the WHO definition, and an additional 422 were identified by applying the NOF definition (total osteoporosis prevalence 9.4%). Application of NOF derived FRAX intervention thresholds led to 936 (15.9%) additional men without osteoporosis being identified as at high fracture risk, raising the total prevalence of men potentially eligible for drug treatment to 25.3%. Observed 10 year hip fracture probabilities were 20.6% for men with osteoporosis by WHO criteria alone, 6.8% for men with osteoporosis by NOF (but not WHO) criteria, 6.4% for men without osteoporosis but classified as at high fracture risk, and 1.5% for men without osteoporosis and classified as at low fracture risk. A similar pattern was noted in observed fracture probabilities for major osteoporotic fracture. Among men with osteoporosis by WHO criteria, observed fracture probabilities were greater than FRAX predicted probabilities (20.6% v 9.5% for hip fracture and 30.0% v 17.4% for major osteoporotic fracture).
Conclusions and relevance Choice of definition of osteoporosis and use of NOF derived FRAX intervention thresholds have major effects on the proportion of older men identified as warranting drug treatment to prevent fracture. Among men identified with osteoporosis by WHO criteria, who comprised 2% of the study population, actual observed fracture probabilities during 10 years of follow-up were highest and exceeded FRAX predicted fracture probabilities. On the basis of findings from randomized trials in women, these men are most likely to benefit from treatment. Expanding indications for treatment beyond this small group has uncertain value owing to lower observed fracture probabilities and uncertain benefits of treatment among men not selected on the basis of WHO criteria.
PMCID: PMC4080830  PMID: 24994809
19.  Patient Decision to Initiate Therapy for Osteoporosis: The Influence of Knowledge and Beliefs 
Journal of General Internal Medicine  2008;23(11):1815-1821.
There are effective treatments to prevent osteoporotic fractures, but these treatments are underutilized.
To evaluate the influence of patient characteristics, perceptions, knowledge and beliefs about osteoporosis on the decision to initiate osteoporotic treatment.
We identified female members of a managed care plan who had a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) bone density test and fulfilled World Health Organization criteria for osteoporosis. Patients were excluded if they received osteoporotic medications in the prior 6 months.
Patients were sent a questionnaire that included items assessing satisfaction with physician–patient communication, trust in the physician, osteoporosis knowledge and beliefs, beliefs about prescription medications, and perceptions of barriers to medication use. Administrative electronic health records were used to identify prescription drug use and health care utilization.
Two hundred and thirty-six women returned surveys and research authorization forms out of 465 contacted for participation. One hundred and thirty-five (57.2%) filled a prescription for an osteoporotic drug in the first 3 months after the DXA exam. The largest differences between initiators and non-initiators were in beliefs in the benefits of medications, and distrust of medications, with initiators believing more strongly in the benefits and effectiveness of medications (p < .001), and non-initiators reporting more distrust of medications (p < .001). Osteoporosis knowledge and the belief that osteoporosis is a serious disease were also related to therapy initiation in bivariate analysis.
Only 57% of patients initiated osteoporotic medication within 3 months of diagnosis. The decision to start osteoporosis treatment appeared to be related to a patient’s beliefs in the effectiveness of osteoporosis medications and distrust of medications.
PMCID: PMC2585659  PMID: 18787907
medication adherence; patient preferences; osteoporosis; decision-making
20.  2002 clinical practice guidelines for the diagnosis and management of osteoporosis in Canada 
To revise and expand the 1996 Osteoporosis Society of Canada clinical practice guidelines for the management of osteoporosis, incorporating recent advances in diagnosis, prevention and management of osteoporosis, and to identify and assess the evidence supporting the recommendations.
All aspects of osteoporosis care and its fracture complications — including classification, diagnosis, management and methods for screening, as well as prevention and reducing fracture risk — were reviewed, revised as required and expressed as a set of recommendations.
Strategies for identifying and evaluating those at high risk; the use of bone mineral density and biochemical markers in diagnosis and assessing response to management; recommendations regarding nutrition and physical activity; and the selection of pharmacologic therapy for the prevention and management of osteoporosis in men and women and for osteoporosis resulting from glucocorticoid treatment.
All recommendations were developed using a justifiable and reproducible process involving an explicit method for the evaluation and citation of supporting evidence.
All recommendations were reviewed by members of the Scientific Advisory Council of the Osteoporosis Society of Canada, an expert steering committee and others, including family physicians, dietitians, therapists and representatives of various medical specialties involved in osteoporosis care (geriatric medicine, rheumatology, endocrinology, obstetrics and gynecology, nephrology, radiology) as well as methodologists from across Canada.
Benefits, harm and costs
Earlier diagnosis and prevention of fractures should decrease the medical, social and economic burdens of this disease.
This document outlines detailed recommendations pertaining to all aspects of osteoporosis. Strategies for identifying those at increased risk (i.e., those with at least one major or 2 minor risk factors) and screening with central dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry at age 65 years are recommended. Bisphosphonates and raloxifene are first-line therapies in the prevention and treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis. Estrogen and progestin/progesterone is a first-line therapy in the prevention and a second-line therapy in the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis. Nasal calcitonin is a second-line therapy in the treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis. Although not yet approved for use in Canada, hPTH(1-34) is expected to be a first-line treatment for postmenopausal women with severe osteoporosis. Ipriflavone, vitamin K and fluoride are not recommended. Bisphosphonates are the first-line therapy for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis in patients requiring prolonged glucocorticoid therapy and for men with osteoporosis. Nasal or parenteral calcitonin is a first-line treatment for pain associated with acute vertebral fractures. Impact-type exercise and age-appropriate calcium and vitamin D intake are recommended for the prevention of osteoporosis. Validation: All recommendations were graded according to the strength of the evidence; where the evidence was insufficient and recommendations were based on consensus opinion alone, this is indicated. These guidelines are viewed as a work in progress and will be updated periodically in response to advances in this field.
PMCID: PMC134653  PMID: 12427685
21.  Hip Fracture Incidence in Relation to Age, Menopausal Status, and Age at Menopause: Prospective Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(11):e1000181.
Using data from the UK Million Women Study, Emily Banks and colleagues investigate the relationships between the incidence of hip fracture and a woman's age, menopausal status, and age at menopause.
Bone mineral density is known to decrease rapidly after the menopause. There is limited evidence about the separate contributions of a woman's age, menopausal status and age at menopause to the incidence of hip fracture.
Methods and Findings
Over one million middle-aged women joined the UK Million Women Study in 1996–2001 providing information on their menopausal status, age at menopause, and other factors, which was updated, where possible, 3 y later. All women were registered with the UK National Health Service (NHS) and were routinely linked to information on cause-specific admissions to NHS hospitals. 561,609 women who had never used hormone replacement therapy and who provided complete information on menopausal variables (at baseline 25% were pre/perimenopausal and 75% postmenopausal) were followed up for a total of 3.4 million woman-years (an average 6.2 y per woman). During follow-up 1,676 (0.3%) were admitted to hospital with a first incident hip fracture. Among women aged 50–54 y the relative risk (RR) of hip fracture risk was significantly higher in postmenopausal than premenopausal women (adjusted RR 2.22, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.22–4.04; p = 0.009); there were too few premenopausal women aged 55 y and over for valid comparisons. Among postmenopausal women, hip fracture incidence increased steeply with age (p<0.001), with rates being about seven times higher at age 70–74 y than at 50–54 y (incidence rates of 0.82 versus 0.11 per 100 women over 5 y). Among postmenopausal women of a given age there was no significant difference in hip fracture incidence between women whose menopause was due to bilateral oophorectomy compared to a natural menopause (adjusted RR 1.20, 95% CI 0.94–1.55; p = 0.15), and age at menopause had little, if any, effect on hip fracture incidence.
At around the time of the menopause, hip fracture incidence is about twice as high in postmenopausal than in premenopausal women, but this effect is short lived. Among postmenopausal women, age is by far the main determinant of hip fracture incidence and, for women of a given age, their age at menopause has, at most, a weak additional effect.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Anyone can break a hip but most hip fractures occur in elderly people. As people age, their bones gradually lose minerals and become less dense, which weakens the bones and makes them more susceptible to fracture. Because women lose bone density faster than men as they age and because women constitute the majority of the elderly, three-quarters of hip fractures occur in women. Hip fractures can cause long-term health problems and premature death. Thus, although surgical repair of a broken hip usually only requires a hospital stay of about a week, a quarter of elderly people who were living independently before their fracture have to stay in a nursing home for at least a year after their injury and a fifth of elderly people who break a hip die within the year. Most hip fractures are caused by falls. Regular exercise to improve strength and balance combined with review of medicines (to reduce side effects and interactions), regular eye examinations, and the removal of fall hazards from the home can help to prevent hip fractures in elderly people.
Why Was This Study Done?
Bone density decreases very rapidly in women immediately after menopause—the time when menstruation permanently stops—and then continues to decrease more slowly with age. Most women have their menopause in their early 50s but menopause can occur in younger women. Early menopause is thought to be a risk factor for osteoporosis (thinning of the bones) and fractures later in life but little is known about how menopause influences hip fracture risk as women age. In this prospective study (a type of study in which a group of people is followed for several years to see whether they develop a particular condition), the researchers investigate the incidence of hip fractures in relation to age, menopausal status, and age at menopause among the participants of the Million Women Study. This study, which recruited 1.3 million women aged 50–64 years who attended UK breast cancer screening clinics between 1996 and 2001, has been investigating how reproductive and lifestyle factors affect women's health.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
At enrollment and three years later, the study participants provided information about their menopausal status and other health and lifestyle factors likely to affect their fracture risk. From these data, the researchers identified more than half a million women who had never used hormone replacement therapy (which reduces fracture risk) and who had given complete information about their menopausal status. They then looked for statistical associations between the occurrence of a first hip fracture in these women over the next few years and their age, menopausal status, and age at menopause. Among women aged 50–54 years, postmenopausal women were twice as likely to have a hip fracture as premenopausal women. Among postmenopausal women, the incidence of hip fractures increased steeply with age and was seven times higher in 70–74-year olds than in 50–54-year olds. Women who had their menopause before age 45 had a slightly increased risk of hip fracture but any effect of age at menopause on the risk of hip fracture was small compared to the effect of age itself, and the slightly increased risk may have been due to other factors that could not be fully accounted for in the analysis.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that around the time of menopause, although hip fractures are rare, the risk of a fracture in postmenopausal women is twice that in premenopausal women. The findings also show that among postmenopausal women, age is the major determinant of hip fracture risk and that for women of a given age, their age at menopause has little effect on hip fracture risk. Women attending breast cancer screening clinics and completing questionnaires about their health may not be representative of the general population. Furthermore, these findings rely on women self-reporting their menopausal status accurately. Nevertheless, the results of this study suggest that clinicians advising women about hip fracture prevention should probably base their advice on the woman's age and on age-related factors such as frailty rather than on factors related to menopause. Clinicians can also now reassure elderly women who had an early menopause that their risk of hip fracture is unlikely to be higher than that of similar women who had a later menopause.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has detailed information about hip fractures
The US National Institute of Arthritis and Muscoloskeletal and Skin Diseases has an interactive feature called “Check up on your bones and provides detailed information about osteoporosis, including advice on fall prevention
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a fact sheet about hip fractures among older adults
MedlinePlus has links to resources about hip fracture, osteoporosis, and menopause (in English and Spanish)
More information on the Million Women Study is available
PMCID: PMC2766835  PMID: 19901981
22.  Post-fracture pharmacotherapy for women with osteoporotic fracture: analysis of a managed care population in the USA 
Osteoporosis International  2014;25(12):2777-2786.
Pharmacologic therapy is recommended to reduce future fracture risk. We examined osteoporosis medications dispensed to older women after first fracture. Only 23 % received therapy during the first year post-fracture. Prior osteoporosis therapy, a prior osteoporosis diagnosis, and older age were good predictors of post-fracture osteoporosis therapy.
Pharmacologic therapy is recommended after osteoporotic fracture to reduce future fracture risk. The objective of this retrospective study was to examine osteoporosis therapy dispensed to women post-fracture.
We identified women ≥50 years old in a large administrative claims database from 2003 to mid-2012 who were continuously enrolled 2 years before (baseline) and 1 year after first osteoporotic fracture. Exclusions were Paget’s disease or malignant neoplasm. Pre- and post-fracture osteoporosis therapies (oral and parenteral) were assessed overall and by fracture site.
A total of 47,171 women of mean (SD) age of 63 (10) years were eligible; fractures included 8 % hip, 17 % vertebral, 73 % non-hip/non-vertebral, and 3 % multiple fracture sites. Only 18 % received osteoporosis therapy within 90 days and 23 % within 1 year post-fracture. Overall, 19 % of women had a prior osteoporosis diagnosis; 20 % had received osteoporosis therapy during baseline. Of 37,649 (80 %) women without baseline therapy, only 9 % initiated pharmacologic therapy within 1 year. The adjusted odds ratio (OR) of therapy within 1 year post-fracture was significantly greater for women who had received baseline osteoporosis therapy (versus none) and who had vertebral (OR 12.7, 95 % confidence interval (CI) 11.2–14.5), hip (15.2, 12.5–18.7), or non-hip/non-vertebral fracture (34.4, 31.7–37.3). Other significant predictors included pre-fracture osteoporosis diagnosis (1.6, 1.4–1.7) and older age (OR range, 1.3–1.7). Treatment adherence was significantly better among women with baseline osteoporosis diagnosis.
The substantial post-fracture treatment gap represents an important unmet need for women with osteoporotic fractures. Fracture liaison or adherence programs could lead to improved post-fracture treatment rates.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00198-014-2827-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4221620  PMID: 25112720
Hip fracture; Osteoporosis; Post-fracture therapy; Under-treatment; Vertebral fracture
23.  Effect of daily oral minodronate on vertebral fractures in Japanese postmenopausal women with established osteoporosis: a randomized placebo-controlled double-blind study 
Osteoporosis International  2008;20(8):1429-1437.
A randomized placebo-controlled trial was conducted to examine the effect of daily oral 1 mg minodronate on vertebral fractures in 704 postmenopausal women with established osteoporosis for 24 months. Minodronate treatment reduced vertebral fractures by 59% without serious adverse events. Minodronate is a safe and effective bisphosphonate for osteoporosis treatment.
Minodronate increases bone mineral density (BMD) in postmenopausal osteoporotic patients. However, its efficacy in reducing osteoporotic fractures has not been tested.
To examine anti-fracture efficacy and safety of daily oral minodronate in postmenopausal women with established osteoporosis, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted in 704 postmenopausal women (55 to 80 years) with one to five vertebral fractures and low BMD. Subjects were randomly assigned to receive daily oral 1 mg minodronate (n = 359) or placebo (n = 345) for 24 months, with daily supplements of 600 mg calcium and 200 IU vitamin D3.
Daily 1 mg minodronate for 24 months reduced the risk of vertebral fractures by 59% (95% CI, 36.6–73.3%). Furthermore, when fractures during the first 6 months were eliminated, the risk of vertebral fractures from 6 to 24 months was reduced by 74% in minodronate-treated group. Minodronate treatment also reduced height loss. Bone turnover markers were suppressed by about 50% after 6 months of minodronate treatment and remained suppressed thereafter. The overall safety profile including gastrointestinal safety was similar between the two groups.
Daily oral minodronate is safe, well-tolerated, and is effective in reducing vertebral fracture risk in postmenopausal women with established osteoporosis.
PMCID: PMC2708326  PMID: 19101754
Bisphosphonate; Bone turnover markers; Fracture prevention; Height loss; Minodronate
24.  P17 - Early Menopause Influences Osteopenic or Osteoporotic Status in Postmenopausal Women: Preliminary Results from the Prof Project 
There is evidence that demographic trends in Southern Apulia are characterised by a huge proportion of elderly people relative to the general population, resulting in an ageing index which is higher than that recorded in other Southern Italian regions and/or sub-regions. Within the PROF (Prevention of Osteoporotic Fractures) project, which aims to foster synergistic efforts between researchers and clinicians, we investigated the correlation between early menopause and osteopenic or osteoporotic status in postmenopausal women by quantitative bone ultrasound evaluation (QUS).
In a period of almost six years (2004–2010), 5665 postmenopausal women (mean age 55, ranging from 39 to 84) were screened by QUS at either the heel or the phalanx. Demographic and anamnestic data were recorded for all the patients, including BMI, nutrition, menopause, physical activity, previous fractures, familial fragility fractures. Three categories of demineralisation were identified: a) Demineralisation, when any T-score <−1.0 SD was observed; b) Severe demineralisation, whenever a T-score <−2.0 was observed, corresponding to a higher risk of fracture; c) Osteoporosis, whenever a T-score <−2.5±0.2 (for the heel) or T-score <−3.2±0.2 (for the phalanx) was observed. Descriptive statistical analyses were performed in order to assess the correlation between early menopause (<45 years of age) and the osteopenic or osteoporotic status of the patients.
Of the 5665 subjects examined overall, demineralisation was observed in 4487 subjects (79%), with severe osteopenia or osteoporotic status being documented in 2823 women (50%) and frank osteoporotic status in 846 (15%). In total, of 1169 women reporting an early menopause, 937 showed demineralisation corresponding to at least an osteopenic status (80%). In 605 of these patients (65%), there was a severe osteopenic or osteoporotic status, while 182 women experiencing an early menopause were found to be frankly osteoporotic (19%).
The PROF dataset proves that an early menopause is closely associated with osteopenic or osteoporotic status in postmenopausal women, thus suggesting the need to implement preventive and regular follow-up strategies with quantitative bone QUS testing.
PMCID: PMC3213817
25.  Minimizing Disparities in Osteoporosis Care of Minorities With an Electronic Medical Record Care Plan 
Ethnic disparities in care have been documented with a number of musculoskeletal disorders including osteoporosis. We suggest a systems approach for ensuring osteoporosis care can minimize potential ethnic disparities in care.
We evaluated variations in osteoporosis treatment by age, sex, and race/ethnicity by (1) measuring the rates of patients after a fragility fracture who had been evaluated by dual-energy xray absorptiometry and/or in whom antiosteoporosis treatment had been initiated and (2) determining the rates of osteoporosis treatment in patients who subsequently had a hip fracture.
Patients and Methods
We implemented an integrated osteoporosis prevention program in a large health plan. Continuous screening of electronic medical records identified patients who met the criteria for screening for osteoporosis, were diagnosed with osteoporosis, or sustained a fragility fracture. At-risk patients were referred to care managers and providers to complete practice guidelines to close care gaps. Race/ethnicity was self-reported. Treatment rates after fragility fracture or osteoporosis treatment failures with later hip fracture were calculated. Data for the years 2008 to 2009 were stratified by age, sex, and race/ethnicity.
Women (92.1%) were treated more often than men (75.2%) after index fragility fracture. The treatment rate after fragility fracture was similar among race/ethnic groups in either sex (women 87.4%–93.4% and men 69.3%–76.7%). Osteoporotic treatment before hip fracture was more likely in white men and women and Hispanic men than other race/ethnic and gender groups.
Racial variation in osteoporosis care after fragility fracture in race/ethnic groups in this healthcare system was low when using the electronic medical record identifying care gaps, with continued reminders to osteoporosis disease management care managers and providers until those care gaps were closed.
PMCID: PMC3111780  PMID: 21424836

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