Ann Rheum Dis 61:73-75 doi:10.1136/ard.61.1.73
  • Concise report

Usefulness of bone densitometry in postmenopausal women with clinically diagnosed vertebral fractures

  1. J M Nolla,
  2. C Gómez-Vaquero,
  3. J Fiter,
  4. D Roig Vilaseca,
  5. L Mateo,
  6. A Rozadilla,
  7. M Romera,
  8. J Valverde,
  9. D Roig Escofet
  1. Department of Rheumatology, Ciutat Sanitària I Universitària de Bellvitge, Feixa Llarga s/n. 08907 L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona, Spain
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr Nolla;
  • Accepted 4 July 2001


Objective: To analyse whether bone mineral density (BMD) assessment is required in postmenopausal women presenting with low trauma vertebral fracture.

Methods: Women with vertebral fracture diagnosed over a 10 year period were recruited from our database. The following were excluded: (a) patients with high energy trauma; (b) patients with malignancies; (c) patients with a metabolic bone disease other than osteoporosis. All postmenopausal women were included in whom BMD had been evaluated at both the lumbar spine and femoral neck by dual energy x ray absorptiometry during the six months after the diagnosis. Patients with a potential cause of osteoporosis other than age and menopause were not considered. A total of 215 patients were identified.

Results: The mean (SD) age of the patients was 65.9 (6.9) years. BMD at the lumbar spine was 0.725 (0.128) g/cm2 and the T score was −2.94 (1.22); BMD at the femoral neck was 0.598 (0.095) g/cm2 and the T score was −2.22 (0.89). The BMD of the patients was significantly lower than that of the general population at both the lumbar spine and femoral neck. When the lowest value of the two analysed zones was considered, six patients (3%) showed a normal BMD, 51 (23.5%) osteopenia, and 158 (73.5%) osteoporosis. The prevalence of osteoporosis at the femoral neck increased with age; it was 25% in patients under 60, 35% in patients aged 60–70, and 60% in patients over 70.

Conclusion: These results indicate that bone densitometry is not required in postmenopausal women with clinically diagnosed vertebral fractures if it is performed only to confirm the existence of a low BMD.