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Natural history of incomplete atypical femoral fractures in patients after a prolonged and variable course of bisphosphonate therapy-a long-term radiological follow-up.

Osteoporos Int. 2019 Aug 21;: Authors: Png MA, Mohan PC, Koh JSB, Howe CY, Howe TS

INTRODUCTION: Retrospective study evaluating the natural history of lateral femoral stress fractures (FSF) by serial radiography over a variable period of time in a cohort of patients treated for some time with bisphosphonates for osteoporosis, whilst also identifying the fracture response in cases where bisphosphonates were discontinued. METHODS: The radiographs of 76 consecutive patients (92 femurs) with 161 FSF were reviewed to document their change over time. Femurs were classified into the following: A-normal, B-focal cortical thickening, C-dreaded black line and D-displaced fracture. Bisphosphonate history was recorded. RESULTS: 66.5% FSF showed group stability between the first and last radiographs: group B (79.1%), group C (45.7%). 28.6% progressed, mostly following an ordered sequence starting from group A, progressing to B, then C, before culminating in D. Progression rate was as follows: A-100% (11/11), B-18.3% (21/115), C-40% (14/35). Regression in FSF was uncommon-5.6% (8/161). 34.8% (32/92) sustained displaced fractures. Kaplan-Meier analysis showed statistically significant difference between the groups; median survival (95% CI): A-4189 (-), B-3383.0 (-), C-1807 (0.0-3788.6) and progression to displaced fracture when bisphosphonate had been stopped for at least 6 months. The group without recent bisphosphonates had a lower group progression rate (17.1%, 12/70). Nevertheless, 10.9% (5/46) progressed to displaced fracture. This group also had the highest proportion of stable (77.1%, 54/70) and regressive lesions (5.7%, 4/70). CONCLUSIONS: In FSF, there is natural progression from normal bone, to focal cortical thickening, to dreaded black line and eventually to displaced fracture. Most lesions persist, remaining static or progressing, especially if a dreaded black line is present and bisphosphonates are continued. Regression is uncommon and more frequent when bisphosphonates are discontinued. Despite stopping bisphosphonates, there remains a 10.9% risk of progression to displaced fracture. PMID: 31435684 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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