Recent evidence has linked long-term bisphosphonate use with insufficiency fractures of the femur in postmenopausal women. In this case-control study, we have identified a significant association between a unique fracture of the femoral shaft, a transverse fracture in an area of thickened cortices, and long-term bisphosphonate use. Further studies are warranted.
Although clinical trials confirm the anti-fracture efficacy of bisphosphonates over 3-5 years, the long-term effects of bisphosphonate use on bone metabolism are unknown. Femoral insufficiency fractures in patients on prolonged treatment have been reported.
We performed a retrospective case-control study of postmenopausal women who presented with low-energy femoral fractures from 2000 to 2007. Forty-one subtrochanteric and femoral shaft fracture cases were identified and matched by age, race, and body mass index to one intertrochanteric and femoral neck fracture each.
Bisphosphonate use was observed in 15 of the 41 subtrochanteric/shaft cases, compared to nine of the 82 intertrochanteric/femoral neck controls (Mantel-Haenszel odds ratio (OR), 4.44 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.77-11.35]; P = 0.002). A common X-ray pattern was identified in ten of the 15 subtrochanteric/shaft cases on a bisphosphonate. This X-ray pattern was highly associated with bisphosphonate use (OR, 15.33 [95% CI 3.06-76.90]; P < 0.001). Duration of bisphosphonate use was longer in subtrochanteric/shaft cases compared to both hip fracture controls groups (P = 0.001).
We found a significantly greater proportion of patients with subtrochanteric/shaft fractures to be on long-term bisphosphonates than intertrochanteric/femoral neck fractures. Bisphosphonate use was highly associated with a unique X-ray pattern. Further studies are warranted.