Effect of implementation of guidelines on assessment and diagnosis of vertebral fractures in patients older than 50 years with a recent non-vertebral fracture

R. Y. van der Velde*, S. P. G. Bours, C. E. Wyers, W. F. Lems, P. P. M. M. Geusens, J. P. W. van den Bergh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The Summary We evaluated the impact of a new Dutch guideline on systematic implementation of densitometric Vertebral Fracture Assessment (VFA) in patients with a recent nonvertebral fracture. Systematic implementation resulted in a significant increase of VFA, diagnosis of vertebral fractures (VFs), and percentage of patients eligible for treatment.

Introduction VFs are underdiagnosed although they are important predictors of fracture risk, independent of age and bone mineral density (BMD). The Dutch guideline on osteoporosis and fracture prevention recommends VFA in all patients aged > 50 years with a recent non-VF. Our aim was to evaluate the effect of systematic implementation of densitometric VFA in patients with a recent non-VF at the fracture liaison service (FLS).

Methods VFA was performed on lateral images of the spine using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and graded according to Genant using Spine Analyzer software.

Results We evaluated 582 patients before and 484 after implementation (mean age 67 and 66 years; 71 and 74% women, respectively). Performing VFA increased from 4.6 to 97.1% (p <0.001) and the diagnosis of VFs from 2.2 to 26.2% for grade >= 1 (p <0.001) and from 0.9 to 14.7% for grade >= 2 (p <0.001). Prevalence of VFs increased with age (5.2% in 50-59-year olds to 27.8% in 80+-year olds, p <0.001), but was similar for both genders, non-VF locations, and BMD. Including patients with osteopenia and a VF increased the percentage of patients eligible for treatment by a quarter, from 31.0% in the pre-guideline to 38.4% in the post-guideline cohort.

Conclusions Systematic guideline implementation resulted in a significant increase of VFA, diagnosis of VFs, and percentage of patients eligible for treatment. VFA contributes to documenting the high prevalence of VFs in patients visiting the FLS with a non-VF in both genders, at any age, non-VF location, and BMD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3017-3022
Number of pages6
JournalOsteoporosis International
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


  • BMD
  • Fracture liaison service
  • Guideline
  • Osteoporosis
  • Vertebral fracture VFA
  • RISK
  • MEN

Cite this