Many patients who have undiagnosed osteoporosis and a recent fragility fracture present to fracture clinics in Canadian hospitals, where the focus of management is on fracture care. The rate of diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis in this patient group is unknown.
Patients who presented with fractures at sites consistent with fragility-type fractures were identified through a retrospective chart review of fracture clinic visits in 3 Ontario community hospitals in selected weeks in February and November 1996 and August and May 1997. These patients were contacted by mail and telephone follow-up to obtain consent to participate in a telephone interview. Patients were excluded if the index fracture had been traumatic, if they were younger than 18 years, or if they had medical conditions known to be associated with secondary bone loss. Eligible patients were questioned about their history of prior fractures, diagnosis of osteoporosis, and investigation and treatment of osteoporosis before or after the index fracture.
Among 2694 fracture clinic visits, we identified 228 patients (8.4%) with fragility-type fractures. Of the 228, 128 (56.1%) were contacted and agreed to participate in an interview about 1 year from the date of the index fracture. Of the 128 patients, 108 (83 postmenopausal and 13 premenopausal women and 12 men) were confirmed as eligible. Of the 108, 43 had experienced 53 fractures in addition to the index fracture in the preceding 10 years, of which 71% were of the fragility type. At interview, only 20 (18.5%) (all postmenopausal women) of the 108 patients reported that they had received a diagnosis of osteoporosis. Of the 20, 90% and 45% respectively had been advised to take calcium and vitamin D supplements; 8 (40%) were receiving hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and 8 (40%) were taking bisphosphonates. Of the 88 patients who had not received a diagnosis of osteoporosis, 4 (4.5%) were receiving HRT, none was taking bisphosphonates, and less than 20% had been advised to take supplemental calcium or vitamin D.
In a representative sample of patients at urban fracture clinics, less than 20% who presented with a fragility-type fracture had undergone investigatation and adequate treatment of osteoporosis at 1-year follow-up. Since previous fracture significantly increases the risk for future fracture, this clearly is a deficiency in management. Through improved identification and treatment of patients with osteoporosis-related fractures who present to fracture clinics, there is a significant opportunity to reduce the rates of illness and death associated with this conditio