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22-12-2011 | Bone health | Article

High humerus fracture rate highlighted for USA


Free abstract

MedWire News: The rate of humerus fractures in the USA is substantially higher than rates observed in other countries, including countries with a larger proportion of elderly in the population, research shows.

In the USA, 122 visits to the emergency department (ED) per 100,000 people were for fractures of the humerus. In 2008, approximately 370,000 ED visits were for patients with humerus fractures.

These rates are significantly higher than historical findings for European countries and Japan, say Sunny Kim (University of California, Davis, USA) and colleagues in the journal Arthritis Care and Research.

The findings are derived from an analysis of a nationwide sample that included 28 million ED records.

The most common fracture site was the proximal humerus, accounting for 50% of humerus fractures.

A large proportion of proximal humerus fractures occurred in individuals aged 45 to 64 years, and the number of ED visits for these fractures increased until the age of 84 years.

Only a relatively small number of cases occurred in patients aged over 90 years old, a finding the authors attribute to the small sample size in this age group.

Children accounted for 64% of all distal humerus fractures, the second most common anatomical site of humerus fracture. Children aged less than 15 years had 84,000 ED visits for distal humerus fractures.

The most common cause of all types of humerus fractures was a fall (88%), with motor vehicle accidents (8%) the second most common cause.

Women were more likely than men to suffer a fracture, but the female-to-male ratio varied by fracture site. The ratio was 2.3:1 for fractures of the proximal humerus, 1.3:1 for the humeral shaft, and 0.9:1 for the distal humerus.

The researchers issue a warning about the changing US demographics.

"As baby boomers age, an expanding elderly population will inevitably result in an increase in the number of humerus fractures, the number of ED visits, and the demands for operation and inpatient care," note Kim and colleagues.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

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