Original Article

Osteoporosis International

, Volume 22, Issue 8, pp 2365-2371

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Prevalence of vertebral fractures on chest radiographs of elderly African American and Caucasian women

  • D. LansdownAffiliated withSection of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine, University of ChicagoDepartment of Orthopedic Surgery, University of California, San Francisco
  • , B. BennetAffiliated withSection of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine, University of ChicagoDreyer Medical Clinic
  • , S. ThielAffiliated withDepartment of Radiology, University of ChicagoSuburban Imaging
  • , O. AhmedAffiliated withDepartment of Radiology, University of Chicago
  • , L. DixonAffiliated withDepartment of Radiology, University of Chicago
  • , T. J. VokesAffiliated withSection of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine, University of Chicago Email author 

Abstract

Summary

The prevalence of vertebral fractures on routine chest radiographs of elderly Caucasian women was only 1.3 times higher than in African American (AA) women, a difference considerably smaller than reported in population studies. AAs with medical problems may have higher risk of vertebral fractures than previously suspected.

Introduction

Earlier studies noted a 1.9- to 3.7-fold higher prevalence of vertebral fractures in Caucasian (CA) compared to African American (AA) women. These studies, however, may have suffered from selection bias. We reported that among women referred for bone density testing, the prevalence of vertebral fractures in AA was the same as in CA women. Suspecting that the latter might have been due to a referral bias, we examined the racial difference in the prevalence of vertebra fractures on chest radiographs of patients seeking general medical care, not selected for osteoporosis.

Methods

Consecutive chest radiographs (N = 1,200) of women over age 60 were evaluated using Genant's semi-quantitative method. Patients' race and the presence of diseases or medications associated with increased fracture risk were ascertained from the electronic medical records.

Results

Among 1,011 women (76% AA) with usable radiographs, 11% had moderate or severe vertebral fractures. The prevalence of vertebral fractures was 10.3% in 773 AA and 13% in 238 CA women (p = 0.248 for difference between races). The lack of difference persisted after controlling for age, smoking, use of glucocorticoids, or presence of cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, organ transplantation, and end-stage renal disease. Among all subjects, CA women were more likely to be diagnosed and treated for osteoporosis (p < 0.001).

Conclusion

Among subjects seeking medical care, the difference in the prevalence of vertebral fractures between AA and CA women is smaller than previously suspected. Greater attention to the detection of vertebral fractures and the management of osteoporosis is warranted in AA women with medical problems.

Keywords

African American Caucasian Osteoporosis Race Racial disparity Vertebral fractures