Numerous studies have reported increased risks of hip, spine, and other fractures among people who had previous clinically diagnosed fractures, or who have radiographic evidence of vertebral fractures. However, there is some variability in the magnitudes of associations among studies. We summarized the literature and performed a statistical synthesis of the risk of future fracture, given a history of prior fracture. The strongest associations were observed between prior and subsequent vertebral fractures; women with preexisting vertebral fractures (identified at baseline by vertebral morphometry) had approximately 4 times greater risk of subsequent vertebral fractures than those without prior fractures. This risk increases with the number of prior vertebral fractures. Most studies reported relative risks of approximately 2 for other combinations of prior and future fracture sites (hip, spine, wrist, or any site). The confidence profile method was used to derive a single pooled estimate from the studies that provided sufficient data for other combinations of prior and subsequent fracture sites. Studies of peri- and postmenopausal women with prior fractures had 2.0 (95 % CI = 1.8, 2.1) times the risk of subsequent fracture compared with women without prior fractures. For other studies (including men and women of all ages), the risk was increased by 2.2 (1.9, 2.6) times. We conclude that history of prior fracture at any site is an important risk factor for future fractures. Patients with a history of prior fracture, therefore, should receive further evaluation for osteoporosis and fracture risk.

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