Vitamin D insufficiency in osteoporotic hip fracture patients : Rapid substitution therapy with high dose oral cholecalciferol (vitamin D3)

Published online: Oct 27 2013

Andy DE JONG, Kate Woods, Lise VAN GESTEL, Mohanraj SURESH, Matthew PORTEOUS

From West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, UK


Assessment and treatment of osteoporosis are recommended following hip fracture. Osteoporosis treatment assumes an adequate calcium intake and a normal vitamin D plasma level. The authors conducted a study in three phases. Phase I : circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels were retrospectively recorded from in the case records of 381 consecutive patients with 387 hip fractures, between March 2010 and September 2011. Only 27 patients had sufficient (> 75 nmol/L) circulating vitamin D, and of these 22 were taking vitamin D supplements. The remainder, 354 patients, had abnormally low vitamin D levels, with a mean value of 26.4 nmol/L. These findings confirmed literature data, and gave rise to the prospective Phase II (October 2011) : 14 consecutive patients with a hip fracture received rapid substitution therapy with 50,000 IU cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) daily for 3 days. Patients with corrected calcium level (calcium level based on the serum albumin level) > 2.60 mmol/L were excluded from phase II (and phase III), in order to avoid hypercalcemia. Substitution resulted in an increase in vitamin D plasma levels from +/- 29.6 nmol/L to +/- 81.4 nmol/L (p < 0.0001), after +/- 14 days. However, vitamin D level remained below the desired threshold of 75 nmol/L in 29%. Therefore it was decided to increase the treatment period from 3 days to 7 days in the next 54 patients with a hip fracture in a prospective phase III (October 2011-January 2012). This time rapid substitution resulted in an increase from +/-31.4 nmol/L to +/-131.1 nmol/L (p < 0.0001), after +/- 16 days, and 100% of treated patients achieved plasma levels above the desired threshold of 75 nmol/L. Conclusion : virtually all patients with a hip fracture have low vitamin D plasma levels ; substitution with 50,000 IU oral cholecalciferol daily for 7 days increases vitamin D plasma levels rapidly, safely and consistently.