Low-trauma rib fracture in the elderly: Risk factors and mortality consequence

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Journal Article
Bone, 2018, 116 pp. 295 - 300
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© 2018 Elsevier Inc. Purpose: Low trauma rib fracture (hereinafter, rib fracture) is common in the elderly, but its risk factors and mortality consequence are rarely studied. We sought to define the epidemiology of rib fracture and the association between rib fracture and postfracture mortality. Methods: The study was part of the Dubbo Osteoporosis Epidemiology Study, which was designed as a population-based prospective study, and consisted of 2041 women and men (aged ≥ 60). The incidence of rib fracture was ascertained from X-ray reports. Bone mineral density (BMD) was measured by DXA (GE-Lunar). The time-dependent Cox model was used to access the relationship between rib fracture and mortality. Results: During the median follow-up of 13 years, 59 men and 78 women had sustained a rib fracture, making the annual incidence of 4.8/1000 person-years. Each SD (0.15 g/cm 2 ) lower in femoral neck BMD was associated with ~2-fold increase in the hazard of fracture (hazard ratio [HR] 1.9; 95% CI, 1.4 to 2.6 in men; and HR 2.1; 95% CI, 1.6 to 2.8 in women). Among those with a rib fracture, the incidence of subsequent fractures was 10.2/100 person-years. Compared with those without a fracture, the risk of mortality among those with a fracture was increased by ~7.8-fold (95% CI, 2.7 to 22.5) in men and 4.9-fold (95% CI 2.0 to 11.8) in women within the first year postfracture. Conclusions: A rib fracture signifies an increased risk of subsequent fractures and mortality. The increased risk of mortality during the first 2.5 years postfracture suggests a window of opportunity for treatment.
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