Prevalence of non-fracture short vertebral height is similar in premenopausal and postmenopausal women: The osteoporosis and ultrasound study

L. Ferrar*, C. Roux, D. M. Reid, D. Felsenberg, C. C. Glüer, R. Eastell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


We observed similar prevalence of short vertebral height without endplate depression (SVH) in young women aged 20-39 years and older women aged 55-79 years. There was no association between SVH and low bone density. In older women, therefore, SVH may be largely long standing and not indicative of osteoporotic fracture. Introduction: Algorithm-based qualitative (ABQ) definition of osteoporotic vertebral fracture (VF) requires evidence of endplate fracture, and there is no minimum threshold for apparent 'reduction' in vertebral height. In older women, SVH without endplate fracture identified on baseline assessment may be long standing and unrelated to VF. If this is so, we would expect to see a similar prevalence of SVH in younger women. We aimed to compare the prevalence of pre- and postmenopausal women with SVH and the characteristics of women with and without SVH. Methods: We used the ABQ method to classify baseline vertebral images (DXA-based imaging) from 257 premenopausal and 1,361 postmenopausal women participating in the population-based Osteoporosis and Ultrasound Study. Images were classified as follows: normal (no VF, no SVH), SVH (no VF) or VF (with/without SVH in unfractured vertebrae). We compared proportions of women with SVH (chi-squared test) and compared age, height, weight and bone mineral density (BMD) by ABQ classification (two-sample t test/analysis of variance). Results: The prevalence of pre- and postmenopausal women with SVH was 37% and 33%, respectively (P>0.05). Compared to women without SVH, premenopausal women with SVH were older (P<0.001) and heavier (P=0.05), and postmenopausal women with SVH were taller (P<0.05), with higher spine BMD (P<0.01). Postmenopausal women with VF were older (P<0.001) and shorter (P<0.01) with lower BMD (P<0.001) than women without VF. Conclusions: Short vertebral height without endplate fracture is equally prevalent in pre- and postmenopausal women and not associated with low bone density.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1035-1040
Number of pages6
JournalOsteoporosis International
Issue number3
Early online date25 May 2011
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012

Bibliographical note

The OPUS study was sponsored by Eli Lilly, Sanofi–Aventis, Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals, Hoffman-La Roche, Pfizer and Novartis, and we acknowledge the support of the National
Institute for Health Research, UK, via its Biomedical Research Units funding scheme. We thank the following members of the OPUS teams at the five participating centres for their contributions: Alison Stewart, Rosie Reid and Lana Gibson (Aberdeen); the members of the Zentrum fur Muskel und Knochenforschung (Berlin), Gabriele Armbrecht, Friederike Tomasius, Frank Touby, Martina Kratzsch and Tilo Blenk; Reinhard Barkmann, Wolframm Timm, Antonia Gerwin, Maren Glüer, Roswitha John, Roswitha Marunde-Ott, Marika Mohr, Regina Schlenger, Pia
Zschoche, Carsten Liess and Carsten Rose (Kiel); Therese Kolta and Nathalie Delfau (Paris) and Jackie Clowes, Margaret Paggiosi, Nicky Peel, Judy Finigan and Debbie Swindell (Sheffield).


  • Bone mineral density
  • Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry
  • Osteoporosis
  • Vertebral fracture


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