Under reporting of vertebral fractures – radiologists “missing opportunities” to spot osteoporosis
26 Sep 2017
The under reporting of vertebral fractures has been in the spotlight recently after a new study highlighted that radiologists are missing opportunities to identify patients who may be potentially at risk from osteoporosis.
The study, carried out by researchers at the University of Oxford, found that within a cohort of hip fracture patients many had previous imaging studies showing incidental vertebral fractures - but 54% of the vertebral fractures were not reported by radiologists.
The researchers used data from the local Fracture Liaison Service to find all hip fracture patients from 2013. They then identified the patients who had also previously undergone radiological imaging that included the thoracic and/or lumbar spine in the previous six years. All identified radiological images were re-examined for the presence of vertebral fractures.
Fizz Thompson, Clinical Director at the National Osteoporosis Society said the study findings highlighted an issue of crucial importance.
“People with osteoporotic vertebral fractures are at increased risk of future fractures. These can have devastating personal consequences and present a serious drain on the resources of our already under-pressure health service.
Radiologists are in a prime position to address this issue through better identification of vertebral fractures and that is why the National Osteoporosis Society is working hard to produce essential resources and education programmes.
We will shortly be launching clinical guidance to raise awareness amongst all clinicians and managers of the clinical significance of a vertebral fracture and the importance of undertaking further investigation and starting treatment in a timely way to reduce the risk of further fractures.”