Bilateral atypical fractures of the femur: Ten years AFTER ten years of bisphosphonate therapy

Matthew D. Smith, Olen J. Haseman, Jorge A. Velez Garza, Jan M. Bruder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Atypical femur fracture (AFF) is a clinically important complication of bisphosphonate (BP) use in the treatment of osteoporosis. The benefits of long-term BP therapy in preventing osteoporotic fractures have been shown to outweigh the risks of treatment. Discontinuation of BPs or “drug holidays” have been implemented as a strategy to reduce the risk of rare complications such as AFF. Case report: We present the case of a 70-year-old postmenopausal woman who suffered bilateral AFF ten years after discontinuation of BP treatment. Management of this patient included fixation of the complete AFF with an intramedullary rod. A single dose of denosumab was administered prior to referral to endocrinology and seemed to contribute to callus formation. Denosumab was discontinued to prevent progression of the contralateral incomplete AFF. Teriparatide was indicated for the treatment of this patient's osteoporosis and also led to the resolution of the incomplete AFF. Conclusion: Patients receiving long-term BP therapy should be periodically reevaluated in order to maximize the benefit and minimize the risk of treatment. Current research supports the implementation of drug holidays to decrease the risk of AFF; however, this case report confirms the need for continued monitoring after discontinuation of BP therapy. Additionally, our review of current literature highlights the need for more specific research regarding duration of BP treatment and drug holidays.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101112
JournalBone Reports
StatePublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Atypical femur fracture
  • Bisphosphonates
  • Drug holiday
  • Osteoporosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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