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Atypical Subtrochanteric Femoral Fractures in Patients with Skeletal Malignant Involvement Treated with Intravenous Bisphosphonates
Mark E. Puhaindran, MBBS; Azeez Farooki, MD; Matthew R. Steensma, MD; Meera Hameed, MD; John H. Healey, MD; Patrick J. Boland, MD
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Disclosure: None of the authors received payments or services, either directly or indirectly (i.e., via his or her institution), from a third party in support of any aspect of this work. One or more of the authors, or his or her institution, has had a financial relationship, in the thirty-six months prior to submission of this work, with an entity in the biomedical arena that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. No author has had any other relationships, or has engaged in any other activities, that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. The complete Disclosures of Potential Conflicts of Interest submitted by authors are always provided with the online version of the article.

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Investigation performed at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY

Copyright © 2011 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2011 Jul 06;93(13):1235-1242. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.J.01199
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Atypical subtrochanteric femoral fractures have been identified as a potential complication of long-term bisphosphonate therapy for the treatment of osteoporosis. Patients with skeletal malignant involvement, who receive much higher cumulative doses of bisphosphonates than do patients with osteoporosis, may be at higher risk for the development of these fractures.


A retrospective review of the imaging studies and case notes was done for patients with skeletal malignant involvement who received a minimum of twenty-four doses of intravenous bisphosphonates between 2004 and 2007 and were followed until death or the time of the latest review. Patients were classified as having an atypical subtrochanteric femoral fracture if they had a transverse subtrochanteric fracture following low-energy trauma or an impending fracture, together with radiographic findings of diffuse diaphyseal cortical thickening and cortical beaking at the subtrochanteric area.


In the study cohort of 327 patients, we identified four patients who developed an atypical subtrochanteric femoral fracture. All four patients were female, three had breast cancer, and one had myeloma. There was no significant difference between patients who developed an atypical subtrochanteric femoral fracture and those who did not with regard to the doses of intravenous bisphosphonates or the duration of treatment.


The prevalence of atypical subtrochanteric femoral fractures in patients with skeletal malignant involvement who are managed with high doses of intravenous bisphosphonates is low. All patients in our study who had development of these fractures had prodromal symptoms of thigh pain.

Level of Evidence: 

Prognostic Level IV. See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
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