May 9, 2011
Vertebral fractures are a common cause of pain and disability
– and they are also powerful predictors of future spine and
hip fractures. Yet there is evidence that many health professionals
simply fail to recognize vertebral fractures in their patients.
Even if the fractures are reported, appropriate intervention is
often not initiated.
Vertebral Fracture Initiative has been designed to facilitate
the understanding and teaching of osteoporotic vertebral fractures.
Teaching slides, which can be easily inserted into presentations,
are enhanced by multi-language executive summaries and resource
documents that contain the latest information, with commentaries
highlighting the key messages.
Dr. Mary Bouxsein of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Harvard
Medical School and one of the lead authors of the initiative
commented, “Currently, only about 40% of older women with
spinal fractures visible on X-ray are tested for osteoporosis. The
figure is even lower in men. Without treatment, many of these
people will go on to suffer a cascade of osteoporotic fractures
that can result in long-term physical impairment.”
Radiographic diagnosis is considered the best way to identify and
confirm the presence of vertebral fractures in clinical practice.
Alternatively, state-of-the-art DXA-based Vertebral Fracture
Assessment (VFA), which is nearly as accurate as radiographs in
detecting fractured vertebra, can be performed concurrently with
DXA-BMD to diagnose osteoporosis.
“We hope this tool will encourage and assist radiologists and
clinicians to accurately diagnose and correctly report
fractures,” said Professor Harry Genant of the University of
California, San Francisco. “Vertebral fractures should be
clearly reported as ‘fractured’ in the medical reports
to avoid ambiguity caused by other terminology. This will help
ensure that patients receive effective treatment and thereby
prevent subsequent fractures.”