There is increasing evidence that the use of bisphosphonates to prevent osteoporotic fractures, particularly long-term use, is associated with an increased risk of unusual fractures of the proximal femur. Numerous case reports of these “atypical” fractures of the femur among bisphosphonate-treated women have appeared over the last 5 years or more.1,2 A case definition for atypical femur fractures has now been proposed3 that includes subtrochanteric (below the lesser trochanter) or diaphyseal (above the distal metaphysis) location, transverse or nearly transverse “chalklike” fracture line (as opposed to the more typical spiral or comminuted fractures), and paucity of trauma. Additional features may include the presence of prodromal thigh pain, bilateral involvement, cortical thickening, and the presence of other selected diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes) or medication use (such as corticosteroids or proton pump inhibitors). Some reports, but certainly not all, suggest marked suppression of bone turnover as assessed by bone turnover markers and iliac crest histomorphometry.1 Even if causally related, these atypical fractures must be quite rare among osteoporotic women treated with bisphosphonates, as a recent pooled analysis of 3 large clinical trials (FIT, FLEX, and HORIZON) with up to 10 years of follow-up4 found that all types of subtrochanteric and diaphyseal fractures were infrequent and similar among placebo- and bisphosphonate-treated women. Although these findings are reassuring, important limitations were that relatively few women received more than 5 years of bisphosphonate treatment, information on atypical features was not specifically collected, and only radiographic reports were reviewed. Clearly, because atypical subtrochanteric fractures occur infrequently, they are unlikely to be easily studied in randomized trials, and other study designs will be necessary.
Thank you for submitting a comment on this article. It will be reviewed by JAMA Internal Medicine editors. You will be notified when your comment has been published. Comments should not exceed 500 words of text and 10 references.
Do not submit personal medical questions or information that could identify a specific patient, questions about a particular case, or general inquiries to an author. Only content that has not been published, posted, or submitted elsewhere should be submitted. By submitting this Comment, you and any coauthors transfer copyright to the journal if your Comment is posted.
* = Required Field
Disclosure of Any Conflicts of Interest*
Indicate all relevant conflicts of interest of each author below, including all relevant financial interests, activities, and relationships within the past 3 years including, but not limited to, employment, affiliation, grants or funding, consultancies, honoraria or payment, speakers’ bureaus, stock ownership or options, expert testimony, royalties, donation of medical equipment, or patents planned, pending, or issued. If all authors have none, check "No potential conflicts or relevant financial interests" in the box below. Please also indicate any funding received in support of this work. The information will be posted with your response.
Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.
Download citation file:
Web of Science® Times Cited: 5
Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.
More Listings atJAMACareerCenter.com >
Enter your username and email address. We'll send you a link to reset your password.
Enter your username and email address. We'll send instructions on how to reset your password to the email address we have on record.
Athens and Shibboleth are access management services that provide single sign-on to protected resources. They replace the multiple user names and passwords necessary to access subscription-based content with a single user name and password that can be entered once per session. It operates independently of a user's location or IP address. If your institution uses Athens or Shibboleth authentication, please contact your site administrator to receive your user name and password.