, Volume 16, Issue 2 Supplement, pp S44-S53
Date: 16 Sep 2004

Multinational survey of osteoporotic fracture management

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Osteoporosis is characterized by a decreased bone mass and an increased bone fragility and susceptibility to fracture. Patients with a fragility fracture at any site have an increased risk of sustaining future fractures. Orthopedic surgeons manage most of these fractures and are often the only physician seen by the patient. Mounting evidence that orthopedic surgeons are not well attuned to osteoporosis led the Bone and Joint Decade (BJD) and the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) to survey 3,422 orthopedic surgeons in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand. The majority of the respondents in all countries had the opinion that the orthopedic surgeon should identify and initiate the assessment of osteoporosis in patients with fragility fractures. Heterogeneous practice pattern exist in different countries; however, identification and treatment of the osteoporotic patient seems to be insufficient in many areas: half of the orthopedic surgeons surveyed received little or no training in osteoporosis. Only approximately one in four orthopedic surgeons in France, the UK and New Zealand regarded themselves as knowledgeable about treatment modalities. Less than one-fifth of the orthopedic surgeons arranged for a surgically treated patient with a fragility fracture to have a bone mineral density (BMD) test. Twenty percent said that they never refer a patient after a fragility fracture for BMD. Only half of the orthopedic surgeons in southern Europe know about the importance of some external risk factors for hip fractures (cataracts, poor lighting, pathway obstacles, poor balance). In summary, this survey clearly indicates that many orthopedic surgeons still neglect to identify, assess and treat patients with fragility fractures for osteoporosis. More educational opportunities need to be offered to orthopedic surgeons through articles, web-based learning and educational seminars. Development of a simple clinical pathway from evidence-based guidelines is an important step to ensure that optimal care is provided for patients with fragility fractures.