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Open Access Open Badges Research article

A comparison of bone density and bone morphology between patients presenting with hip fractures, spinal fractures or a combination of the two

Richard G Crilly13 and Lizebeth Cox2

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Geriatric Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada

2 Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Western Ontario, Windermere Road, London, ON, Canada

3 St Joseph’s Health Care London, 801 Commissioners Road East, London, ON, N6C 5J1, Canada

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2013, 14:68  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-14-68

Published: 22 February 2013



Currently it is uncertain how to define osteoporosis and who to treat after a hip fracture. There is little to support the universal treatment of all such patients but how to select those most in need of treatment is not clear. In this study we have compared cortical and trabecular bone status between patients with spinal fractures and those with hip fracture with or without spinal fracture with the aim to begin to identify, by a simple clinical method (spine x-ray), a group of hip fracture patients likely to be more responsive to treatment with current antiresorptive agents.


Comparison of convenience samples of three groups of 50 patients, one with spinal fractures, one with a hip fracture, and one with both. Measurements consist of bone mineral density at the lumbar spine, at the four standard hip sites, number, distribution and severity of spinal fractures by the method of Genant, cortical bone thickness at the infero-medial femoral neck site, femoral neck and axis length and femoral neck width.


Patients with spinal fractures alone have the most deficient bones at both trabecular and cortical sites: those with hip fracture and no spinal fractures the best at trabecular bone and most cortical bone sites: and those with both hip and spinal fractures intermediate in most measurements. Hip axis length and neck width did not differ between groups.


The presence of the spinal fracture indicates poor trabecular bone status in hip fracture patients. Hip fracture patients without spinal fractures have a bone mass similar to the reference range for their age and gender. Poor trabecular bone in hip fracture patients may point to a category of patient more likely to benefit from therapy and may be indicated by the presence of spinal fractures.

Hip fracture; BMD; Trabecular and cortical bone; Vertebral compression fractures