Vertebral Fractures in COVID-19 Linked to Mortality
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Vertebral fractures appear to be common in people with severe COVID-19, and also raise the mortality risk, findings from a retrospective cohort suggest.

COVID-19 has become the most relevant medical issue globally. Despite several studies that have investigated clinical characteristics of COVID-19 patients, no data have been reported on the prevalence of vertebral fractures (VFs). Since VFs may influence cardiorespiratory function and disease outcomes, the aim of this study was to assess VFs prevalence and clinical impact in COVID-19.

This was a retrospective cohort study performed at San Raffaele Hospital, a tertiary health care hospital in Italy. Researchers included COVID-19 patients for whom lateral chest x-rays at emergency department were available. VFs were detected using a semiquantitative evaluation of vertebral shape on chest x-rays.

-- A total of 114 patients were included in this study and thoracic VFs were detected in 41 patients (36%).
-- Patients with VFs were older and more frequently affected by hypertension and coronary artery disease.
-- Thirty-six (88%) patients in VFs+ group compared to 54 (74%) in VFs? group were hospitalized.
-- Patients with VFs more frequently required noninvasive mechanical ventilation compared with those without VFs.
-- Mortality was 22% in VFs+ group and 10% in VFs? group.
-- In particular, mortality was higher in patients with severe VFs compared with those with moderate and mild VFs.

Conclusively, VFs may integrate the cardiorespiratory risk of COVID-19 patients, being a useful and easy to measure clinical marker of fragility and poor prognosis. Researchers suggest that morphometric thoracic vertebral evaluation should be performed in all suspected COVID-19 patients undergoing chest x-rays.