Osteoporosis International

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 214–221

Vertebral Fractures Predict Subsequent Fractures


  • L. J. Melton III
    • Department of Health Sciences Research
  • E. J. Atkinson
    • Department of Health Sciences Research
  • C. Cooper
    • Department of Health Sciences Research
  • W. M. O’Fallon
    • Department of Health Sciences Research
  • B. L. Riggs
    • Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism, Nutrition and Internal Medicine, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Foundation, Rochester, Minnesota, USA
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s001980050218

Cite this article as:
Melton III, L., Atkinson, E., Cooper, C. et al. Osteoporos Int (1999) 10: 214. doi:10.1007/s001980050218


This population-based study documents an increase in most types of fractures following the occurrence of a clinically recognized vertebral fracture among 820 Rochester, Minnesota, residents. During 4349 person-years of follow-up, 896 new fractures were observed. Relative to incidence rates in the community, there was a 2.8-fold increase in the risk of any fracture, which was greater in men (standardized incidence ratio (SIR), 4.2; 95% CI, 3.2–5.3) than women (SIR, 2.7; 95% CI, 2.4–3.0). The estimated cumulative incidence of any fracture after 10 years was 70%. The greatest increase in risk was for subsequent fractures of the axial skeleton, in particular a 12.6-fold increase (95% CI, 11–14) in additional vertebral fractures. There was a lesser increase in most limb fractures, including a 2.3-fold increase (95% CI, 1.8–2.9) in hip fractures and a 1.6-fold increase (95% CI, 1.01–2.4) in distal forearm fractures. There was a slightly greater association with distal forearm fractures among those whose first vertebral fracture occurred before age 70 years but a similar relationship with hip fractures, including cervical and intertrochanteric hip fractures separately, regardless of age at the initial vertebral fracture. There was also an equivalent increase in subsequent fracture risk whether the initial vertebral fracture was attributed to severe or moderate trauma. These data show that vertebral fractures represent an important risk factor for fractures in general, not just those of the spine and hip.

Key words:Cohort study – Epidemiology – Forearm fracture – Hip fracture – Vertebral fracture
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© International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation 1999