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November 8, 1985

Diagnosing Vertebral Wedge Deformities

Author Affiliations

William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital Madison, Wis

JAMA. 1985;254(18):2560. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03360180058029

To the Editor.—  There is little information on the prevalence of osteopenic vertebral deformities in elderly males.1 Review of the literature reveals prevalence data ranging from less than 6% to 47%.2-4 We investigated the prevalence of vertebral wedge deformities in 67 unselected male veterans aged 85 years and older who had recently been hospitalized at the Madison (Wis) VA Hospital and had technically suitable lateral chest roentgenograms. Patients unable to support themselves in an upright position were excluded. Lateral chest roentgenograms are a readily available but neglected source of information on vertebral contour. We examined only the thoracic spine down to approximately T-11. Vertebral wedging was diagnosed if posterior vertebral height was 25% greater than anterior vertebral height. Posterior height included the prominence related to the rib facet. Only vertebrae in which all four corners of the vertebral body could be defined were judged to be wedged.Wedging