Osteoporosis is a metabolic bone disease that increases the risk for fragility fractures. Screening and diagnosis can be achieved by measuring bone mineral density (BMD) using quantitative CT tomography (QCT) in the lumbar spine. QCT-derived BMD measurements can be used to diagnose osteopenia or osteoporosis based on American College of Radiology (ACR) thresholds. Many reports exist regarding the disease prevalence in asymptomatic and disease-specific populations; however, osteoporosis/osteopenia prevalence rates in lumbar spine fusion patients without fracture have not been reported. The purpose of this study was to define osteoporosis and osteopenia prevalence in lumbar fusion patients using QCT.
A retrospective review of prospective data was performed. All patients undergoing lumbar fusion surgery who had preoperative fine-cut CT scans were eligible. QCT-derived BMD measurements were performed at L1 and L2. The L1-2 average BMD was used to classify patients as having normal findings, osteopenia, or osteoporosis based on ACR criteria. Disease prevalence was calculated. Subgroup analyses based on age, sex, ethnicity, and history of abnormal BMD were performed. Differences between categorical groups were calculated with Fisher’s exact test.
Overall, 296 consecutive patients (55.4% female) were studied. The mean age was 63 years (range 21-89 years). There were 248 (83.8%) patients with ages ≥ 50 years. No previous clinical history of abnormal BMD was seen in 212 (71.6%) patients. Osteopenia was present in 129 (43.6%) patients and osteoporosis in 44 (14.9%). There were no prevalence differences between sex or race. Patients ≥ 50 years of age had a significantly higher frequency of osteopenia/osteoporosis than those who were < 50 years of age.
In 296 consecutive patients undergoing lumbar fusion surgery, the prevalence of osteoporosis was 14.9% and that for osteopenia was 43.6% diagnosed by QCT. This is the first report of osteoporosis disease prevalence in lumbar fusion patients without vertebral fragility fractures diagnosed by QCT.