, Volume 34, Issue 6, pp 535-541
Date: 24 Nov 2008

Current Aspects of Fragility Fracture Repair

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Abstract

Due to the demographic developments worldwide, fragility fractures represent an increasing problem for the public health system. The risk of developing osteoporosis increases with age and is relatively higher in women and in the Caucasian population. The stability of bone is reduced because of accentuation of the normal loss of bone mass in ageing, leading to an increased susceptibility to fracture with an increased rate of complications after surgical stabilization. Due to this, the orthopedic surgeon has to assess the quality of the bone during preoperative planning and select the implants and postoperative care accordingly to achieve the best. Over the last 10 years fixed locking implants have been introduced into clinical practice. These represent a new type of angle stable fixation devices that address the mechanical instability between bone and implant. The novel problems associated with this device are due to higher cut-out rates when the bone structure is altered and mass is reduced. The developments in joint replacement have also resulted in longer standing times and lower complication rates with immediate fullweight-bearing after implantation. However, to date, little is known about the mechanisms of fracture healing in osteoporosis or fragility fractures. One future approach may be in supporting biological fracture healing by regenerative therapies using growth hormones and/or (stem) cells. The most frequent initial clinical symptom of osteoporosis is a fracture without a relevant trauma. At this stage, the trauma surgeon should initiate diagnostic procedures, treatment of osteoporosis and tertiary prevention according to the European guidelines. Ultimately, all female patients older than 50 years and all male patients older than 60 years with fractures should be assessed and treated for bone quality. Orthogeriatric specialists or interdisciplinary orthogeriatric teams should initiate a specific surgical treatment followed by early rehabilitation in order to allow the elderly patient to return to daily living as soon as possible.

The authors are members of the “Working Group Osteology” of the German Society of Trauma Surgeons.