Incidental vertebral compression fractures in imaging studies: Lessons not learned by radiologists

Tommaso Bartalena, Department of Radiologiy, Poliambulatorio Privato Zappi Bartalena, Imola 40026, Italy.
World journal of radiology 10/2010; 2(10):399-404. DOI: 10.4329/wjr.v2.i10.399
Source: PubMed


To assess radiologists reporting rates of incidental vertebral compression fractures in imaging studies.
We performed a review of the current literature on the prevalence and reporting rates of incidental vertebral compression fractures in radiologic examinations.
The bibliographic search revealed 12 studies: 7 studies using conventional radiology and 5 using multidetector computed tomography (MDCT). The loss of height cut-off to define a vertebral fracture varied from 15% to 25%. Fracture prevalence was high (mean 21.1%; range 9.5%-35%) in both radiographic and MDCT studies (mean 21.6% and 20.2%, respectively). Reporting rates were low with a mean value of 27.4% (range 0%-66.3%) and were significantly lower in MDCT than in radiographic studies (mean 8.1% vs 41.1%). Notably, recent studies showed lower reporting rates than older studies.
Many scientific studies have confirmed a high prevalence of vertebral compression fractures as incidental findings on imaging studies. However, the underreporting of these fractures, as determined in our study, may negatively affect patient care.

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