Use of Advanced Imaging for Radiographically Occult Hip Fracture in Elderly Patients: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Arya Haj-Mirzaian, John Eng, Ramin Khorasani, Ali S. Raja, Adam S. Levin, Stacy E. Smith, Pamela T. Johnson, Shadpour Demehri

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: The overall rate of hip fractures not identified on radiographs but that require surgery (ie, surgical hip fractures) remains unclear in elderly patients who are suspected to have such fractures based on clinical findings. Moreover, the importance of advanced imaging in these patients has not been comprehensively assessed. Purpose: To estimate the frequency of radiographically occult hip fracture in elderly patients, to define the higher-risk subpopulation, and to determine the diagnostic performance of CT and bone scanning in the detection of occult fractures by using MRI as the reference standard. Materials and Methods: A literature search was performed to identify English-language observational studies published from inception to September 27, 2018. Studies were included if patients were clinically suspected to have hip fracture but there was no radiographic evidence of surgical hip fracture (including absence of any definite fracture or only presence of isolated greater trochanter [GT] fracture). The rate of surgical hip fracture was reported in each study in which MRI was used as the reference standard. The pooled rate of occult fracture, diagnostic performance of CT and bone scanning, and strength of evidence (SOE) were assessed. Results: Thirty-five studies were identified (2992 patients; mean age, 76.8 years 6 6.0 [standard deviation]; 66% female). The frequency of radiographically occult surgical hip fracture was 39% (1110 of 2835 patients; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 35%, 43%) in studies of patients with no definite radiographic fracture and 92% (134 of 157 patients; 95% CI: 83%, 98%) in studies of patients with radiographic evidence of isolated GT fracture (moderate SOE). The frequency of occult fracture was higher in patients aged at least 80 years (44%, 529 of 1184), those with an equivocal radiographic report (58%, 71 of 126), and those with a history of trauma (41%, 977 of 2370) (moderate SOE). CT and bone scanning yielded comparable diagnostic performance in the detection of radiographically occult hip fracture (P = .67), with a sensitivity of 79% and 87%, respectively (low SOE). Conclusion: Elderly patients with acute hip pain and negative or equivocal findings at initial radiography have a high frequency of occult hip fractures. Therefore, the performance of advanced imaging (preferably MRI) may be clinically appropriate in all such patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)521-531
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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