The insufficiencies of risk analysis of impending pathological fractures in patients with femoral metastases: A literature review

Emir Benca*, Janina M. Patsch, Winfried Mayr, Dieter H. Pahr, Reinhard Windhager

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

30 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Pathologic fractures in patients with bone metastases are a common problem in clinical orthopaedic routine. On one hand recognition of metastatic lesions, which are at a high risk of fracture, is essential for timely prophylactic fixation, while on the other hand patients with a low risk of pathologic fractures should be spared from overtreatment.The purpose of this review is to identify all methods for fracture risk evaluation in patients with femoral metastases in the literature and to evaluate their predictive values in clinical applications. Methods: A MEDLINE database literature research was conducted in order to identify clinical scoring systems, conclusions from prospective and retrospective radiologic and/or clinical studies, as well as data from biomechanical experiments, numerical computational methods, and computer simulations. Results: The search identified 441 articles of which 18 articles met the inclusion criteria; 4 more articles were identified from citations of the primarily found studies. In principle there are two distinct methodologies, namely fracture risk prediction factors based on clinical and radiological data such as the most deployed the Mirels' score and fracture risk prediction based on engineering methods. Fracture risk prediction using Mirels' score, based on pure clinical data, shows a negative predictive value between 86 and 100%, but moderate to poor results in predicting non-impending fractures with a positive predictive value between 23 and 70%. Engineering methods provide a high accuracy (correlation coefficient between ex vivo and results from numerical calculations: 0.68 < r2 < 0.96) in biomechanical lab experiments, but have not been applied to clinical routine yet. Conclusion: This review clearly points out a lack of adequate clinical methods for fracture risk prediction in patients with femoral metastases. Today's golden standard, the Mirels' score leads to an overtreatment. Whereas, engineering methods showed high potential but require a clinical validation. In future definition of patient-specific, quantitative risk factor based modelling methods could serve as useful decision support for individualized treatment strategies in patients with a metastatic lesion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-56
Number of pages6
JournalBone Reports
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Femur
  • Metastatic lesion
  • Mirels' score
  • Pathologic fracture
  • Risk prediction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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