Bisphosphonate-associated femur fractures have been well described but the preoperative patient factors, treatment modalities, and complications of treatment are unclear.
We asked whether a diagnosis of osteoporosis, the characteristic radiographic features of bisphosphonate-related femur fractures, and complication rates differed in patients with operatively treated femoral shaft fractures receiving bisphosphonates and in patients not receiving bisphosphonates.
We retrospectively reviewed 43 patients with bisphosphonate-associated femoral shaft fractures (including subtrochanteric) from 2002 to 2008 and 20 patients with similar fractures but not treated with bisphosphonates. Similar implants were used in both groups, but a greater number of adjuvants were used in the bisphosphonate cohort. We recorded preoperative osteoporosis and radiographic findings of the characteristic bisphosphonate femur fracture and early complications. The minimum followup was 5 months (mean, 29 months; range 5–60 months).
Preoperatively a greater percentage of patients treated with bisphosphonates had confirmed osteoporosis than those not treated with bisphosphonates (24% versus 5%, respectively), a greater percentage had a proximal fracture location (48% versus 40%, respectively), and their mean cortex to shaft diameter ratio was greater (24% versus 15%, respectively). The bisphosphonate cohort had a higher rate of intraoperative fractures (21% versus 0%) and postoperative plate failures (30% versus 0%).
Despite low rates of other risk factors and ample use of biologic adjuvants, patients treated with bisphosphonates having femur fractures have more complications.
Level of Evidence
Level III, therapeutic study. See Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.