Prevalent osteoporotic vertebral fractures more likely involve the upper endplate than the lower endplate and even more so in males

Nazmi Che-Nordin, Min Deng, James F. Griffith, Jason C. S. Leung, Anthony W. L. Kwok, Yue-Qi Zhu, Richard H. Y. So, Timothy C. Y. Kwok, Ping Chung Leung, Yì Xiáng J. Wáng


Background: While the importance of identifying osteoporotic vertebral endplate fracture (EPF) is being recognized; the pathophysiological understanding of EPF till now remain insufficient. In this population-based cross-sectional radiograph study, we aim to investigate the anatomic location characteristics of osteoporotic EPF.
Methods: This study analyzed the anatomical location of osteoporotic EPFs in elderly Chinese population (age ≥65 years). The T4–L4 radiographs of 1,954 elderly Chinese men (mean: 72.3 years) and 1,953 elderly Chinese women (mean: 72.5 years) were evaluated to identify EPF, and vertebral bodies were graded according to Genant’s vertebral deformity criteria.
Results: Of the 101,582 endplates analyzed, there were 505 EPFs (males: 27.7%; females: 72.3%). Excluding those with both upper endplate and lower endplate involvements, the ratio of upper EPF to lower EPF was 9.63 for males and 4.3 for females (P<0.05). Thoracolumbar junction, particularly L1 (26.4% for males and 24.1% for females) and followed by T12 (20.7% for males and 19.7% for females), had highest prevalence of EPF. With an endplate divided into 5 segments of equal length in the anteroposterior direction and grade 0.5 & 1, grade 2 vertebral deformities analyzed, fractures occurred mostly at the middle segment (70.1% for upper endplates in males and 78.6% for upper endplates in females), followed by second anterior segment (20.9% for upper endplates in males and 14.4% for upper endplates in females). The most anterior and most posterior segments were not primarily involved in EPF.
Conclusions: Osteoporotic EPFs more likely involve the upper endplate rather than lower endplate, with a trend for this effect to be greater in men than in women. These characteristics may help radiographic differential diagnosis for osteoporotic EPF.