Patients presenting with low-trauma wrist fractures are an ideal target population for early case finding of osteoporosis. We decided to investigate whether this early detection occurred in practice.
This study was conducted at a single center in Edmonton, Alberta. A structured interview format was used to contact 112 (72%) of 156 patients older than 40 years who were diagnosed as having an atraumatic fracture of the distal radius/ulna from April 1997 to March 1998 and from January 1999 to February 1999. Information on osteoporosis follow-up and drug therapy was obtained from the patient.
The time between fracture and telephone interview ranged from 6 months to 3 years, with the majority of the sample being interviewed at least 1 year after fracture. Of the 112 patients in this study, 44 had sustained previous fractures, 17 of which had occurred at the wrist, vertebrae, or hip. Sixteen patients in the sample had already sustained a subsequent clinical fracture before our telephone contact. Thirty-two patients had received treatment for osteoporosis before fracture. A further 24 patients (21%) had undergone osteoporosis follow-up after fracture. After fracture, 42 (38%) of all patients were receiving either hormone replacement therapy or using a bisphosphonate.
Only 50% of the study population had received osteoporosis follow-up after fracture. Few patients had any change in their medication use after fracture. The findings in this study population suggest that recognition of the potential for osteoporosis in such patients is inadequate. Given the magnitude of this public health care problem, it is clear that attention to case finding and treatment of osteoporosis should be increased.