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Eur J Endocrinol. 2004 Aug;151 Suppl 1:S87-91.

The bone mass concept: problems in short stature.

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  • 1Children's Hospital, University of Cologne, Josef-Stelzmann-Strasse 9, 50924 Cologne, Germany.


Bone densitometry is currently one of the mainstays in the evaluation of systemic bone diseases in adults and is also increasingly used to assess primary or secondary bone disorders in children and adolescents. The purpose of carrying out densitometric studies in such circumstances is to measure the densitometric indicators of bone stability. Following procedures which were established for diagnosing adult osteoporosis, a decrease in densitometric surrogates of bone stability is usually interpreted as indicating increased fracture risk. The most basic densitometric parameter is bone mineral content (BMC), which can be measured with most densitometric techniques. BMC is either defined as the mass of mineral contained in an entire bone or as the mass of mineral per unit bone length. While mineral mass can be expected to be a good surrogate for bone stability, BMC is obviously a size-dependent parameter, since small bones weigh less than big bones. This is a drawback in paediatric use, since many children and adolescents who are examined by densitometry suffer from chronic disorders and are small-for-age. Short children will have a lower BMC than their healthy age-matched peers, even if their (smaller) bones are otherwise completely normal.

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