The Outcome of Surgically Treated Femur Fractures Associated With Long-Term Bisphosphonate Use

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Bisphosphonates (BPs) evolved as the mainstay for the treatment of osteoporosis, reducing the incidence of fractures. Recently several publications described the occurrence of low-energy subtrochanteric and femoral shaft fractures associated with long-term BP use. The aim of this study was to describe the outcome of surgically treated femur fractures associated with prolonged BP use.


Fifteen patients suffering from 17 atypical femoral fragility fractures associated with long-term (>3 years) BP use were located. Data included fracture type, time of BP use, last bone mineral density DEXA scores for the femoral neck and spine, type of surgery, and the need for revision.


Fourteen female patients and one male patient were identified. The median age was 73 years (range, 51–80 years). The mean BP use was 7.8 years (range, 4–13 years). Fourteen patients had low-energy traumatic femoral shaft (proximal and distal) or low subtrochanteric fractures. The mean lumbar spine (for 13 patients) bone mineral density T-score was −3.0, whereas mean femoral neck T-score was −1.8 with only three patients in the osteoporotic range.


Fracture healing after the first procedure for patients treated with nails was 54%, with 46% of patients requiring revision surgery. These included nail dynamization, exchange nailing, and one revision to a blade plate. All of these eventually healed.


BP-related fractures are a recently described phenomenon. Despite initial osteoporosis, the DEXA scan may appear outside the osteoporotic range for the femoral neck in these patients. In addition, a much higher failure rate with intramedullary nailing requiring revision surgery may occur with these patients.

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