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Spinal Fractures Not All They Are Cracked Up to Be

Posted on: 09/20/2005
What factors affect recovery from hip fracture in adults aged 90 and older? Is it age, gender, or spinal fractures? Or perhaps type of surgery or number of days in the hospital makes a difference?

This study looks at the long-term results of 74 elderly patients with hip fracture. All had surgery to repair the fracture. Some had pins put in place. Others had a partial hip replacement.

Spinal X-rays and bone density were measured in all patients to look for osteoporosis. Everyone had some amount of osteoporosis. Ninety percent had one or more spinal (vertebral) fractures.

Walking ability did not improve with surgery. Those who walked well before the fracture had the best results. Many patients ended up either using a walker or wheelchair. Some went from using a wheelchair to being bedridden.

The number of vertebral fractures and the degree of dementia before and after surgery had the biggest impact on recovery. Walking ability was directly linked to these two factors. Other factors didn't affect walking ability but did predict long-term survival.

The authors conclude that when it comes to prolonging life, preventing vertebral fractures is more important than improving bone density.

Yoichiro Ishida, MD, PhD, et al. Factors Affecting Ambulatory Status and Survival of Patients 90 Years and Older with Hip Fractures. In Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. July 2005. Vol. 436. Pp. 208-215.

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