The trabecular bone mineral content (BMC) of the spine was measured by computed tomography in 185 women aged 47-84 years with vertebral fracture (n = 74), hip fracture (n = 83), and both vertebral and hip fracture (n = 28). Eighty-seven percent of vertebral-fracture patients, 38% of hip-fracture patients, and 82% of vertebral- and hip-fracture patients had spinal BMC values below the fifth percentile for healthy premenopausal women and values 64%, 9%, and 68% below the fifth percentile for age-matched control subjects. No significant loss of spinal trabecular bone was seen in patients with hip fracture. If it is assumed that the rate of trabecular bone loss is the same in the spine and femoral neck, then hip fracture (unlike osteoporotic vertebral fracture) is not associated with disproportionate loss of trabecular bone. Hip fracture occurs secondary to weakening of bone and increased incidence of falls. Bone weakening may be due to disproportionate loss of trabecular or cortical bone, proportionate loss of both, or other as yet undetermined qualitative changes in bone.

Article History

Published in print: 1986