Calcified Tissue International

, Volume 76, Issue 4, pp 235–242 | Cite as

Long-Term Morbidity and Mortality After a Clinically Diagnosed Vertebral Fracture in the Elderly—a 12- and 22-Year Follow-up of 257 Patients

  • R. Hasserius
  • M.K. Karlsson
  • B. Jónsson
  • I. Redlund-Johnell
  • O. Johnell


The objective of this study was to analyze the long-term morbidity and mortality in patients with a clinically diagnosed vertebral fracture. Seventy men with a mean age of 70 years (range 50–91 years) and 187 women with a mean age of 72 years (range 50–96 years) were radiographically diagnosed as having a vertebral fracture in the thoracic or lumbar spine at the Malmö University Hospital (Sweden) during 1979. At the time of a follow-up examination 12 years later, 56 of the 76 patients who were still alive participated in an investigation that evaluated back pain and subjective health status by a questionnaire. Forty-four of these subjects also participated in a further radiologic examination of the spine. Serving as controls were age- and gender-matched subjects from the Malmö cohort of the European Vertebral Osteoporosis Study (EVOS). A mortality analysis was also conducted, covering 22 years following the baseline fracture. There were more female patients, who, in comparison with the controls, 12 years after the diagnosis, had had back pain during the year preceding the follow-up (72% vs 33%, P < 0.001), had current back pain (42% vs. 19%, P = 0.006), and had a subjectively impaired health status (44% vs. 17%, P < 0.001). The corresponding differences in men reached only a borderline significance, for both back pain during the year preceding the follow-up (60% vs. 28%, P = 0.07) and current back pain (40% vs. 15%, P = 0.09), whereas there was no difference in subjective health status. The incidence of new vertebral fractures in individuals with a clinically diagnosed vertebral fracture during the following 12 years was in men 25 per 1,000 person-years and in women 49 per 1000 person-years. There were more women with a new vertebral fracture at the 12-year follow-up examination who, in comparison with women without a new fracture, had had back pain during the year preceding the follow-up examination (90% vs. 50%, age-adjusted P = 0.02) and had current back pain (65% vs. 21%, age-adjusted P = 0.03). Women with a new vertebral fracture at the 12-year follow-up examination had a higher subsequent mortality rate in the next 10 years [age-adjusted hazard ratio 2.8 (95% CI 1.0–7.9)] as compared with women without. The mortality rate during the 22 years following the diagnosis among the male patients was 111.7 per 1,000 person-years as compared with 73.4 per 1,000 person-years among the male population at risk. The mortality rate among the female patients was 95.1 per 1,000 person-years as compared with 62.0 per 1,000 person-years among the female population at risk. We conclude that a clinically diagnosed thoracic or lumbar vertebral fracture in the elderly can be regarded as a risk factor for subsequent, long-term morbidity, especially in women, and for mortality in both genders.


Fracture Morbidity Mortality Osteoporosis Vertebra 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Hasserius
    • 1
  • M.K. Karlsson
    • 1
  • B. Jónsson
    • 1
  • I. Redlund-Johnell
    • 1
  • O. Johnell
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Orthopaedics and Departments of Diagnostic RadiologyMalmö University Hospital, Lund UniversityMalmöSweden

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