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05.12.2018 | Original Article

Vertebral fractures cascade: potential causes and risk factors

Osteoporosis International
H. Che, V. Breuil, B. Cortet, J. Paccou, T. Thomas, L. Chapuis, F. Debiais, N. Mehsen-Cetre, R.M. Javier, S. Loiseau Peres, C. Roux, K. Briot
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We performed a study to identify potential causes and risk factors of vertebral fracture cascade. Vertebral fracture cascade is a severe clinical event in patients with bone fragility. Only half of patients have an identified cause of secondary osteoporosis.


Vertebral fracture (VF) is the most common osteoporotic fracture, and a strong risk factor of subsequent VFs leading to VF cascade (VFC). We prompted a study to identify potential causes and risk factors of VFC.


VFC observations were collected retrospectively between January 2016 and April 2017. VFC was defined as an occurrence of at least three VFs within 1 year.


We included in 10 centers a total of 113 patients with VFC (79.6% of women, median age 73, median number of VFs in the cascade, 5). We observed 40.5% and 30.9% of patients with previous major fractures and a previous VF, respectively, and 68.6% with densitometric osteoporosis; 18.9% of patients were currently receiving oral glucocorticoids and 37.1% in the past.
VFC was attributed by the physician to postmenopausal osteoporosis in 54% of patients. A secondary osteoporosis associated with the VFC was diagnosed in 52 patients: glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis (25.7%), non-malignant hemopathies (6.2%), alcoholism (4.4%), use of aromatase inhibitors (3.6%), primary hyperparathyroidism (2.7%), hypercorticism (2.7%), anorexia nervosa (2.7%), and pregnancy and lactation-associated osteoporosis (1.8%). A total of 11.8% of cases were reported following a vertebroplasty procedure. A total of 31.5% patients previously received an anti-osteoporotic treatment. In six patients, VFC occurred early after discontinuation of an anti-osteoporotic treatment, in the year after the last dose effect was depleted: five after denosumab and one after odanacatib.


The results of this retrospective study showed that only half of VFC occurred in patients with a secondary cause of osteoporosis. Prospective studies are needed to further explore the determinants of this severe complication of osteoporosis.

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