, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 118-124

Risk factors for vertebral fracture in menopausal or postmenopausal Japanese women with rheumatoid arthritis: a cross-sectional and longitudinal study

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The occurrence of vertebral fracture was examined cross-sectionally and longitudinally over a 4-year interval in 117 menopausal and postmenopausal Japanese women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), whose ages ranged from 50 to 64 years. Patients treated with bisphosphonate were excluded. Vertebral fracture was diagnosed by lateral thoracic and lumbar spine radiography at the start and end of a 4-year period. Bone mineral density (BMD) at L2–L4 according to dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), the administration of corticosteroids or methotrexate, and urinary excretion of N-telopeptide of type I collagen (NTx) were also recorded. In the cross-sectional study, the prevalence of vertebral fracture in the initial radiographs of RA patients was 21%, while it was 5% in healthy age-matched controls. Among RA patients treated with corticosteroids, 33% had vertebral fracture, which was a significantly higher prevalence than that in RA patients without steroid administration. In the longitudinal study, vertebral fracture prevalence was also increased in patients more than 60 years old. RA patients having steroid treatment and a BMD/YAM (young adult mean) ratio below 70% had higher risk of vertebral fracture than patients with a BMD/YAM ratio of 70%–80%, which in turn exceeded the risk with a BMD of 80% or more. No adverse effect of low-dose methotrexate on vertebral fracture was found. Urinary NTx was high in RA patients, as reported previously, and did not differ between patients with or without new fracture after 4 years. In conclusion, Japanese RA patients more than 60 years old who were treated with corticosteroid or had a BMD below 80% had high risk of vertebral fracture.