The incidence of fragility hip fractures in a subpopulation of South Africa

M L Grundill, M C Burger


Background. Fragility hip fractures (FHFs) are associated with significant morbidity, mortality and burden on the healthcare system. European and North American literature suggests that the worldwide incidence of FHFs is increasing, but very little is known about the incidence of FHFs in Africa and South Africa (SA). Historically FHFs were believed to be uncommon in black African populations, but recent studies have shown a marked increase in the incidence compared with the early literature.

Objectives. To investigate the age-, gender- and population group-specific incidences of FHFs in a subpopulation in Eastern Cape Province, SA.

Methods. A retrospective review of all patients presenting with FHFs was performed at a tertiary hospital in the Eastern Cape over a 1-year period. Age-, gender- and population group-specific incidence rates were calculated for 5-year age intervals using the age distribution data of the western region of the Eastern Cape (WREC) as a denominator for each age group. Overall crude incidence rates were calculated by using the sum total of FHFs, divided by the study population. All incidences were calculated as number of fractures per 100 000 people annually.

Results. A total of 253 patients with FHFs were included. The crude incidence rate of low-energy hip fractures in the WREC was 19.3 per 100 000 (males 14.6, females 23.4) over the study period. Population group-specific incidences were 15.1, 18.7, 19.9 and 46.6 per 100 000 for black, coloured, Indian and white population groups, respectively. The highest number of low-energy hip fractures in females occurred in the ≥85-year (19.6%) and 70 - 74-year (16.5%) age groups, with the highest number of male cases observed in the 60 - 64-year group (20.2%). The highest frequency distribution of FHFs was observed in black males aged 60 - 64 years (5.5%; n=14) and black females aged 70 - 74 years (6.3%; n=16).

Conclusions. The local incidence of FHFs is higher than initially reported, but when compared with other countries remains on the lower end of spectrum. A large proportion of FHFs are occurring in young patients (<65 years). These findings warrant further investigation that may prompt the development of preventive strategies and optimal treatment programmes.

Authors' affiliations

M L Grundill, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Livingstone Tertiary Hospital, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

M C Burger, Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa

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Neck of femur fractures; Fragility fractures; Incidence; Population group; South Africa

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2021;111(9):896-902.

Article History

Date submitted: 2021-09-02
Date published: 2021-09-02

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