Background: Although osteoporosis is being evaluated and treated increasingly in elderly patients with fragility fractures, some studies have suggested that physicians may be missing important opportunities, especially in patients with nonvertebral fractures. The purpose of the present study was to determine whether specialists responsible for treating fractures at various locations have different propensities for evaluating and treating osteoporosis after a fracture in female patients over the age of fifty years.
Methods: A retrospective nationwide cohort study was performed with use of data collected during 2007 by the Korean Health Insurance Review Agency, which covers 97% of the population. The incidences of fractures around the hip, spine, and wrist in female patients more than fifty years of age and the frequencies of bone density scans for osteoporosis and the use of medications for its treatment were analyzed and compared.
Results: The database identified 31,540 hip fractures, 58,291 spine fractures, and 61,234 wrist fractures in female patients who were more than fifty years of age in Korea during 2007. Of these patients, 7095 (22.5%) with a hip fracture, 16,779 (28.8%) with a spine fracture, and 5348 (8.7%) with a wrist fracture underwent diagnostic bone density scans. Furthermore, 7060 patients (22.4%) with a hip fracture, 17,551 (30.1%) with a spine fracture, and 4594 (7.5%) with a wrist fracture were managed with at least one medication approved for the treatment of osteoporosis.
Conclusions: Despite a recent increase in the recognition of osteoporosis in patients with fragility fractures, our review of this national cohort indicates that patients with a wrist fracture are less likely to be evaluated and managed for osteoporosis than those with a hip or spine fracture by physicians who are responsible for treating symptomatic fractures. Additional studies and intervention programs are necessary to improve this care gap, beginning with physicians who are responsible for fracture treatment.