Objective. RA accelerates bone loss, increasing the risk of osteoporosis (OP) and fracture. DXA imaging has been validated for identifying RA patients at risk of fracture. The objective of this study was to assess the presence of asymptomatic vertebral fractures (VFs) in a cohort of patients with established RA referred for DXA using VF assessment (VFA) technology.
Methods. We determined the prevalence of VFs in a cohort of RA patients age ≥40 years fulfilling the 1987 ACR classification criteria. Two blinded radiologists independently reviewed all VFA scans to determine the presence and severity of VFs using Genant criteria. We compared the prevalence and severity of VFs between RA patients and determined the independent associations of different variables with VFs using multivariable logistic regression.
Results. Six hundred and three subjects fulfilled study inclusion criteria. Thirteen per cent of the entire cohort (77/603) had one or more vertebral deformities identified on VFA imaging: 58% were female with mean age 56 years. The prevalence of OP and osteopenia was 59% and 40%, respectively. The prevalence and severity of VFs showed significant correlation with spine T-scores (r = −0.37, P < 0.001) and femoral T-scores (r = −0.31, P < 0.001). In multivariable analyses VFs were significantly and independently associated with a longer duration of RA, markers of disease activity and severity.
Conclusion. VFs were detected on VFA images in 13% of women and men with well-established RA referred for DXA testing. Longer duration and severity of RA disease were independent risk factors for fractures in our study.