Press Release

COVID-19 patients with spinal fractures are twice as likely to die

Washington, DC October 21, 2020

Study finds vertebral fractures are common in COVID-19 patients

Patients with COVID-19 and vertebral fractures are twice as likely to die from the disease, according to a study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Vertebral fractures occur when the bony block or vertebral body in the spine collapses, which can lead to severe pain, deformity and loss of height. These fractures are typically caused by osteoporosis (weak, brittle bones). Vertebral fractures are prevalent in COVID-19 patients and can influence cardiorespiratory function and disease outcomes.

“Vertebral fractures are a marker of frailty, and for the first time we show that individuals who have such fractures appear to be at increased risk of severe COVID-19,” said the study’s corresponding author, Andrea Giustina, M.D., Director of the Institute of Endocrine and Metabolic Sciences of the San Raffaele Vita-Salute University and IRCCS San Raffaele Hospital in Milano, Italy. “A simple thoracic x-ray can detect these fractures and morphometric evaluation should be performed in COVID-19 patients at hospital admission.”

The researchers studied the x-rays of 114 COVID-19 patients and detected thoracic vertebral fractures in 35 percent. These patients were older and more affected by high blood pressure and heart disease. They were more likely to need ventilators and were twice as likely to die compared to those without fractures. The death rate was higher in patients with severe fractures.

Other authors include Luigi di Filippo, Anna Maria Formenti, Mauro Doga, Erika Pedone and Patrizia Rovere-Querini of the Vita.Salute San Raffaele University and IRCCS San Raffaele Hospital.

The manuscript received no external funding.

The manuscript, “Radiological Thoracic Vertebral Fractures are Highly Prevalent in COVID-19 and Predict Disease Outcomes,” was published online, ahead of print.

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Endocrinologists are at the core of solving the most pressing health problems of our time, from diabetes and obesity to infertility, bone health, and hormone-related cancers. The Endocrine Society is the world’s oldest and largest organization of scientists devoted to hormone research and physicians who care for people with hormone-related conditions.

The Society has more than 18,000 members, including scientists, physicians, educators, nurses and students in 122 countries. To learn more about the Society and the field of endocrinology, visit our site at www.endocrine.org. Follow us on Twitter at @TheEndoSociety and @EndoMedia.


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