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Mechanisms found to explain atypical femoral fractures

Cornell Chronicle—July 31, 2017

Cornell Chronicle featured a study done by a group of researchers including HSS orthopedic trauma surgeon Joseph M. Lane, MD and HSS adjunct assistant scientist Eve Donnelly, PhD. The study focused on the long-term effects of bisphosphonates and the potential risk for an atypical femoral fracture (AFF), a break in the shaft of the femur that can result from little or no trauma. Bisphosphonates are used to combat bone loss and fragility fractures for those with osteoporosis.

Dr. Donnelly noted that because of the changing demographics in the country, the Surgeon’s General office estimates that by the year 2020, half of the population over age 50 will either have or be at risk for fractures from osteoporosis. Her study was designed to learn the link between bisphosphonates and AFF in women with osteoporosis.

Dr. Donnelly explained the bisphosphonate’s main function is "slowing the resorption (shedding) of old bone, which is typically followed by remodeling, the growth of new bone".

She added that if the resorption is slowed down by the medicine, the remodeling process is also affected and causes existing bones to age and get brittle over time. "It’s kind of a double-edged sword. It’s extremely good to prevent bone loss, but the drugs will also slow this natural process, which allows turnover."

Dr. Donnelly noted her study is not proposing to do away with bisphosphonate treatment, but to regularly reassess the patient’s risk of AFF.

Read the full article at news.cornell.edu


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