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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 167-168  

Antiepileptic therapy, osteomalacia, and synchronous fractures: Don't lose looser zones

Department of Orthopaedics, Government Medical College, Haldwani, Uttarakhand, India

Date of Web Publication18-Sep-2017

Correspondence Address:
Ganesh Singh Dharmshaktu
Department of Orthopaedics, Government Medical College, Haldwani - 263 139, Uttarakhand
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2249-4863.214989

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How to cite this article:
Dharmshaktu GS. Antiepileptic therapy, osteomalacia, and synchronous fractures: Don't lose looser zones. J Family Med Prim Care 2017;6:167-8

How to cite this URL:
Dharmshaktu GS. Antiepileptic therapy, osteomalacia, and synchronous fractures: Don't lose looser zones. J Family Med Prim Care [serial online] 2017 [cited 2021 Jul 26];6:167-8. Available from: https://www.jfmpc.com/text.asp?2017/6/1/167/214989

Dear Editor,

We read with great interest the review article entitled “Impact of antiepileptic drugs on bone health: Need for monitoring, treatment, and prevention strategies.” It indeed is thorough and touches key aspects of the subject in its entirety. We would, however, like to add an often neglected aspect of prolonged therapy and concomitant osteopenia through a brief description of a case that made us learn a lesson and refresh our checklist while dealing with these cases in future. As orthopedic surgeons, we usually tackle fractures associated with decrease bone mass but synchronous fractures in our patient as we later understood was preventable to certain extent and so was agony of the patient and family. We believe this wisdom has potential to educate primary care doctors or healthcare worker for better anticipation of complication followed by due management or relevant referral.

A 15-year-old female child, a known case of generalized tonic–clonic seizures and on antiepileptic treatment since 6 years of age, presented with acute pain, swelling, and difficulty in weight bearing over right lower extremity following a bout of seizure last night. The radiographs confirmed subtrochanteric fracture of right side along with features of generalized osteomalacia such as trefoil-shaped pelvis, multiple looser zones in scapula, and an old clavicle fracture. There was a looser zone at medial femoral cortex on opposite side [Figure 1]. The present fracture itself appeared through a similar looser zone which propagated into full blown displaced fracture during seizure. On the following night, another bout of seizure led to pain on left side and identical fracture corresponding to the looser zone on that side [Figure 2]. The case was later managed successfully with fixation with flexible nails and led to gradual union in follow-up [Figure 3].
Figure 1: Right side femur fracture possibly through the looser zone. The presence of looser zone on contralateral side (arrow)

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Figure 2: Fracture on left side few hours later following bout of seizure through the aforementioned looser zone

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Figure 3: Radiograph showing fixation and uniting fractures with callus formation

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Osteomalacia and associated looser zones can act as stress concentrator that may propagate into fractures during increased physiological stresses such as during seizure. Prolonged antiepileptic therapy along with decreased bone strength compounds the problem. Anticonvulsant therapy itself has been attributed to decrease bone strength.[1] Case–control studies have shown long-term antiepileptic drugs as contributing factor to risk of fractures more so in female patients.[2] The propagation of looser zones into fracture due to seizure is a rare occurrence more so if synchronous. Providing due prophylactic support or preferably fixation of long bones with radiologically visible looser zone is the lesson we learnt hard way in this case. Apart from it, ensuring appropriate nutrition, exercises along with calcium and Vitamin D supplementation.

Appropriate calcium through diet or supplements and Vitamin D with or without oral bisphosphonate therapy has been linked with improved bone health in such scenario.[3],[4] The case highlights important lessons in the patient care when dealing with cases of seizure disorders with looser zones to observe caution for potential fractures with prophylactic splinting and periodic evaluation.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Arora E, Singh H, Gupta YK. Impact of antiepileptic drugs on bone health: Need for monitoring, treatment, and prevention strategies. J Family Med Prim Care 2016;5:248-53.  Back to cited text no. 1
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Nilsson OS, Lindholm TS, Elmstedt E, Lindbäck A, Lindholm TC. Fracture incidence and bone disease in epileptics receiving long-term anticonvulsant drug treatment. Arch Orthop Trauma Surg 1986;105:146-9.  Back to cited text no. 2
Souverein PC, Webb DJ, Weil JG, Van Staa TP, Egberts AC. Use of antiepileptic drugs and risk of fractures: Case-control study among patients with epilepsy. Neurology 2006;66:1318-24.  Back to cited text no. 3
Lazzari AA, Dussault PM, Thakore-James M, Gagnon D, Baker E, Davis SA, et al. Prevention of bone loss and vertebral fractures in patients with chronic epilepsy – Antiepileptic drug and osteoporosis prevention trial. Epilepsia 2013;54:1997-2004.  Back to cited text no. 4


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3]


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