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Insufficiency Fracture

Insufficiency Fractures of the Femur and Sacrum

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Dr. M.S. Alam, MD, MBBS, CCFP, FCFP

Clinical Lecturer, Cumming School of Medicine, Calgary, University of Calgary, Family Medicine Department, Calgary, AB.

CLINICAL TOOLS

Abstract: Insufficiency Fractures (I.F) are non-traumatic fractures that occur in abnormal bone (low density bone). Usually occurs in elderly post-menopausal women and is non-traumatic. X-rays are unremarkable and MRI showed extensive bone marrow oedema and subchondral fracture.
Ms. Shirley Cooke, a 61 year old with a background of low bone mass, breast cancer, Diabetes Melitis type 2, HTN, splenic artery thrombosis came in with a dull pain on her left knee and occasionally some sharp element, with unremarkable examination on knees.
Recently, she was diagnosed with left ankle avulsion fracture of lateral maleolus and is wearing an ankle boot for healing.
It is important to make the correct diagnosis in order to avoid complications."
Key Words: Insufficiency Fracture (I.F), low bone mass, management.
1. With regard to I.F of femoral Condyle—Although the knee symptoms will always be unilateral, on the side of the meniscal tear, and are more frequent in older woman, the pain of an insufficiency fracture can easily be confused with that of other joint pathologies and therefore be easily missed.2
2. With regard to I.F of Femoral Neck—This fracture is seen in the elderly osteoporotic patient, often following a trivial event such as a slip without a fall. The resultant boney defect may be a compression fracture, which is inherently stable, or a transverse fracture, more common in older patients and is potentially much more serious.
3. With regard to I.F of Sacrum—The possibility of an insufficiency fracture should be considered in elderly osteoporotic patients, particularly women, following evenly seeming innocuous trauma to the posterior pelvis who exhibit constant buttock pain which may radiate to the thigh or groin and is unaffected by spinal movement.
MRI is the gold standard for Dx. I.F.
Symptoms and conventional tests may not be helpful, High Index of suspicious is needed.
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