Osteoporosis is underrecognized and undertreated in adult spinal deformity patients

Anmol Gupta, Thomas Cha, Joseph Schwab, Harold Fogel, Daniel G. Tobert, Afshin E. Razi, Carl Paulino, Andrew C. Hecht, Christopher M. Bono, Stuart Hershman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Adult spinal deformity (ASD) patients may have osteoporosis, predisposing them to an increased risk for surgical complications. Prior studies have demonstrated that treating osteoporosis improves surgical outcomes. In this study we determine the prevalence of osteoporosis in ASD patients undergoing long spinal fusions and the rate at which osteoporosis is treated. Methods: ASD patients who frequented either of two major academic medical centers from 2010 through 2019 were studied. All study participants were at least 40 years of age and endured a spinal fusion of at least seven vertebral levels. Medical records were explored for a diagnosis of osteoporosis via ICD-10 code and, if present, whether pharmacological treatment was prescribed. T-tests and chi-squared analyses were used to determine statistical significance. Results: Three hundred ninety-nine patients matched the study’s inclusion criteria. Among this group, 131 patients (32.8%) had been diagnosed with osteoporosis prior to surgery. With a mean age of 66.4 years, osteoporotic patients were on average three years older than non-osteoporotic (P=0.002) and more likely to be female (74.8% vs. 61.9%; P=0.01). At the time of surgery, 34.4% of osteoporotic patients were receiving pharmacological treatment. Although not statistically significant, women were more likely to receive medical treatment than men (P=0.07). Conclusions: The prevalence of osteoporosis in ASD patients undergoing a long spinal fusion is substantially higher than that of the general population. Surgeons should have a low threshold for bone density testing in ASD patients. With only about one-third of osteoporotic patients treated, there is a classic “missed opportunity” in this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Spine Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • Deformity
  • Fusions
  • Osteoporosis
  • Scoliosis
  • Surgical complications


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