Bone fractures might heal faster if the patient is injected with medications. This is the outcome of a unique study of 102 women with wrist fractures.
The study was led by Per Aspenberg, Professor of Orthopaedics at Linköping University.
“This is the first study in the world that shows that we can accelerate fracture healing in humans with medication, even without surgery. We measured how long it took before common wrist fractures healed and compared this with patients who received the bone hormone PTH”.
The research is based on animal experiments in which Professor Aspenberg demonstrated dramatically improved healing with PTH (teriparatide), a drug used to treat osteoporosis. The results in humans also show an improvement, although not as clear.
102 post-menopausal women aged 45-85 years took part in the study. They had all suffered from wrist fractures (Colle’s fracture), but were otherwise healthy. Immediately after the fracture they were treated conservatively with the injured wrist put in a cast, but without surgical intervention.
Patients were divided into three groups of 34 each. For eight weeks they received daily injections – one group of patients received a placebo, another received the standard dose of 20 micrograms PTH and the third group received 40 micrograms. The healing process was then followed continuously with x-rays.
Significant improvement was seen in the group of patients who received 20 micrograms per day. In this group, the average healing time was 7,4 weeks compared to 9,1 weeks for the placebo group. Those who received the 40 microgram dose of the drug healed slightly faster than the placebo group but only marginally so.
“We chose to study a common fracture in order to find out if PTH accelerates the healing processes. If the results stand up, they can be of greater use to other fractures which can not be studied in this way”, says Per Aspenberg.
Patients in the study were recruited in seven countries: Canada, Mexico, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden and USA. A third were from Sweden. Per Aspenberg's main collaborators in the study are Torsten Johansson, University Hospital, Linköping and Pedro A. García-Hernández, Monterrey, Mexico. The study was funded by the pharmaceutical company Lilly.
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