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Keywords:

  • BISPHOSPHONATES;
  • CALCITONIN;
  • RALOXIFENE;
  • FEMORAL FRACTURES;
  • OSTEOPOROSIS;
  • SIDE EFFECTS

Abstract

Bisphosphonates are the primary therapy for postmenopausal and glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis. Case series suggest a potential link between prolonged use of bisphosphonates and low-energy fracture of subtrochanteric or diaphyseal femur as a consequence of oversuppression of bone resorption. Using health care utilization data, we conducted a propensity score–matched cohort study to examine the incidence rates (IRs) and risk of subtrochanteric or diaphyseal femur fractures among oral bisphosphonate users compared with raloxifene or calcitonin users. A Cox proportional hazards model evaluated the risk of these fractures associated with duration of osteoporosis treatment. A total of 104 subtrochanteric or diaphyseal femur fractures were observed among 33,815 patients. The estimated IR of subtrochanteric or diaphyseal femur fractures per 1000 person-years was 1.46 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.11–1.88] among the bisphosphonate users and 1.43 (95% CI 1.06–1.89) among raloxifene/calcitonin users. No significant association between bisphosphonate use and subtrochanteric or diaphyseal femur fractures was found [hazard ratio (HR) = 1.03, 95% CI 0.70–1.52] compared with raloxifene/calcitonin. Even with this large study size, we had little precision in estimating the risk of subtrochanteric or diaphyseal femur fractures in patients treated with bisphosphonates for longer than 5 years (HR = 2.02, 95% CI 0.41–10.00). The occurrence of subtrochanteric or diaphyseal femur fracture was rare. There was no evidence of an increased risk of subtrochanteric or diaphyseal femur fractures in bisphosphonate users compared with raloxifene/calcitonin users. However, this study cannot exclude the possibility that long-term bisphosphonate use may increase the risk of these fractures. © 2011 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.