Survey of spine surgeons on attitudes regarding osteoporosis and osteomalacia screening and treatment for fractures, fusion surgery, and pseudoarthrosis

Christian P. Dipaola, Jesse Bible, Debdut Biswas, Matthew Dipaola, Jonathan N. Grauer, Glenn R. Rechtine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background context: Osteoporosis and osteomalacia are significant risk factors for fracture and spine instrumentation failure. Low-energy fractures are becoming increasingly more common because of an increase in life expectancy and age of the population. Decreased bone density is an independent risk factor for instrumentation failure in spinal fusion operations. Purpose: To assess the awareness and practice patterns of spine surgeons regarding metabolic bone disorders and osteoporosis with emphasis on fracture care and arthrodesis. Study design/setting: Questionnaire study. Patient sample: Spine surgeons attending the "Disorders of the Spine" conference (January 2007, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada). Outcome measures: Respondent reported frequencies of diagnostics, screening, and treatment methods for patients with low-energy spine fractures, pseudoarthrosis, and those undergoing spinal arthrodesis. Methods: A ten-question survey was administered to orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons who treated spine fractures and degenerative spine conditions in their practice. The survey was given to those who were attending a continuing medical education spinal disorders conference. The survey asked about treatment patterns with respect to osteoporosis and osteomalacia workup and treatment for patients with low-energy spine fractures, pseudoarthrosis, and those undergoing spinal arthrodesis. Results: Of the 133 surgeons to whom the questionnaire was distributed at this meeting, 114 questionnaires were returned that corresponds to a response rate of 86%. Twenty-one surveys were excluded because of incomplete biographical information, resulting in a total of 93 completed questionnaires that were available for analysis. When treating patients with low-energy spine fractures, 60% checked dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) and 39% checked metabolic laboratories (of those who did not order laboratories and DEXA about 63% refer for treatment). Before instrumented fusion, 44% of those queried checked DEXA and 12% checked metabolic laboratories (vitamin D, parathyroid hormone [PTH], and calcium [Ca]). Before noninstrumented fusion, 22% checked DEXA and 11% checked metabolic laboratories. Before addressing pseudoarthrosis, 19% checked DEXA and 20% checked metabolic laboratories. Conclusions: Despite of the large number of elderly patients undergoing spine care and the high incidence of osteoporosis and/or osteomalacia in this population, a large portion of the spine surgeons who responded to the survey reported that they do not perform routine osteoporosis/osteomalacia workups. Of those who do perform workups, some commented that it will change their surgical plan or preoperative treatment. It appears that there is a need for increased awareness among spine specialists regarding osteoporosis screening and treatment. Osteoporosis practice patterns may also be affected with newly evolving government quality reporting regulations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)537-544
Number of pages8
JournalSpine Journal
Volume9
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology

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