Alendronate in the Prevention of Bone Loss After a Fracture of the Lower Leg


  • Dr. Lips has been a consultant and received research funding by Merck & Company and Eli Lilly & Company. Dr. van der Poest Clement served on the regional advisory council on “raloxifene” for Eli Lilly & Company and received funding by Merck & Company. All other authors have no conflict of interest.


Fracture of a leg and the consequent absence from weight-bearing lead to local bone loss. A 1-year, single-center, prospective, randomized, double-blind study was conducted, to determine whether bone loss would occur in the proximal femur and the calcaneus after a fracture of the lower leg and whether this loss could be prevented by the antiresorptive drug bisphosphonate alendronate. Twenty-three men and 18 women with a recent unstable fracture of the lower leg were randomized to receive either 10 mg of alendronate daily or placebo. Bone mineral density (BMD) of both hips and the lumbar spine was measured at baseline and 6 weeks and 3, 6, and 12 months after start of the treatment. Quantitative ultrasound (QUS) measurements of the calcaneus were performed at baseline on the noninjured side and at 6 weeks and 3, 6, and 12 months after start of treatment on both sides. After 1 year, in the placebo group, there was a significant decrease from baseline in BMD of the hip on the side of the fracture. In the alendronate group, there was no significant change from baseline. The differences in BMD between the two treatment groups on the side of the fracture were significant in all sites of the hip: 4.4% (p = 0.016) in the trochanter, 4.6% (p = 0.016) in the femoral neck, and 3.9% (p = 0.009) in the total hip. In the hip on the contralateral side, there were no significant changes from baseline in either treatment group and there was no difference between the two treatment groups. BMD in the lumbar spine increased in the alendronate group, and after 1 year there was a significant difference between the active treatment and placebo group of 3.4% (p = 0.04). One year after fracture, ultrasound parameters of the calcaneus in the placebo group were significantly lower on the fractured side compared with the contralateral side (p < 0.01). In the alendronate group, no significant difference between the two sides was observed. In conclusion, BMD of the proximal femur was still decreased 1 year after a fracture of the lower leg. Alendronate prevented this bone loss.