Study Design: Cross-sectional study. Purpose: To examine whether the number of continuous vertebral bone bridges and bone mineral density (BMD) influence the fracture risk in diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH) patients. Overview of Literature: Bone bridges connecting through the intervertebral body in DISH create long lever arms that can increase the risk of fractures from minor trauma. DISH patients have a BMD that is higher than or comparable to those of age-matched healthy subjects. Methods: We examined the computed tomography scans from the thoracic vertebra to the sacrum used to diagnose DISH in 140 patients (98 men and 42 women; average age, 78.6 years). We compared patients who did (n=52) and did not have (n=88) fractures at the continuous vertebral bodies fused by bone bridges. The relationship between the vertebral fractures and the maximum number of vertebrae that are bony cross-linked with contiguous adjacent vertebrae (max VB) from the thoracic vertebra to the sacrum or from the lumbar vertebra to the sacrum and proximal femur BMD were analyzed using a logistic regression model. Results: We found that after adjusting for the confounding factors, higher max VB, both from the thoracic vertebrae to the sacrum and the lumbar vertebrae to the sacrum, was associated with a higher risk of vertebral fractures. This difference was statistically significant. The risk was higher when only the lumbar vertebrae to the sacrum was considered (thoracic vertebrae to the sacrum: odds ratio, 1.21; p<0.05; lumbar vertebrae to the sacrum: odds ratio, 2.78; p<0.01). Moreover, low proximal femur BMD in DISH patients raises the fracture risk (odds ratio, 0.47; p<0.01). Conclusions: Many continuous vertebral bone bridges, especially those that extend to the lumbar spine and low proximal femur BMD, are risk factors for fracture in DISH patients.
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