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Aasis Unnanuntana MD, Kashif Ashfaq MD, Quang V. Ton MD, John P. Kleimeyer BA, Joseph M. Lane MD

The Effect of Long-term Alendronate Treatment on Cortical Thickness of the Proximal Femur

 

Background One of the radiographic hallmarks in patients with atypical femoral insufficiency fractures after prolonged bisphosphonate treatment is generalized cortical hypertrophy. Whether cortical thickening in the proximal femur is caused by long-term alendronate therapy, however, remains unknown. Questions/purposes We asked whether long-term alendronate use of 5 years or more results in progressive thickening of the subtrochanteric femoral cortices. Patients and Methods We retrospectively evaluated changes in cortical thickness and cortical thickness ratio (ratio of cortical to femoral shaft diameter) at the subtrochanteric region of the proximal femur in baseline and latest hip dual-energy xray absorptiometry (DXA) scans of 131 patients. The mean followup was 7.3 years. Patients were divided into two groups: control (no history of alendronate, 45 patients) and alendronate (history of alendronate C 5 years, 86 patients). We determined cortical thickness and cortical thickness ratio at 3.5 and 4.0 cm below the tip of the greater trochanter, representing the subtrochanteric region. Results After a minimum of 5 years followup, mean cortical thickness decreased approximately 3% in the alendronate and control groups. The cortical thickness at the subtrochanteric femoral region changed less than 1 mm in greater than 90% of the patients with long-term alendronate treatment. We observed no differences in mean changes of cortical thickness and percent changes of cortical thickness between the two groups. Conclusions Long-term alendronate treatment did not appear to cause thickened femoral cortices within the detection limits of our method. This finding contrasts with the notion that long-term alendronate treatment leads to generalized cortical thickening.

 

COMMENTO

Molti studi hanno riportato l’associazione del trattamento con alendronato a lungo termine (>5 anni) e fratture da fragilità subtrocanteriche, ipotizzando come fattore patogenetico una profonda inibizione del turnover osseo e del bone remodeling che indurrebbe un ispessimento generalizzato dell’osso corticale. Questo studio recente mostra che non ci sono differenze significative tra lo spessore della corticale a livello subtrocanterico nei pazienti che non sono stati trattati con alendronato rispetto ai pazienti in trattamento con lo stesso farmaco da più di 5 anni. 

The Effect of Long-term Alendronate Treatment on Cortical Thickness of the Proximal Femur

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