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J Osteoporos. 2012;2012:519754. doi: 10.1155/2012/519754. Epub 2012 Aug 28.

Bone mineral density in spinal cord injury: an evaluation of the distal femur.

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  • 1Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Division, Federal University of São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, Brazil.


Osteoporosis (OP) in spinal cord injury (SCI) patients is a secondary process in which numerous factors are involved. Diagnosing OP and the threshold for fractures in this population, based on bone mineral density (BMD) measured by double energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), is still a challenge. The aim of this study was to evaluate bone mineral loss by DXA, its relationship with body composition and fracture incidence, in complete paraplegics patients, compared with aged-matched controls; we include a nonstandard bone site, the distal femur, and describe the technical and practical aspects of this procedure. Twenty-five SCI patients were included in the study and 17 subjects as control group. No prior or recent fractures were observed in X-ray analysis. The BMD of all femoral sites was significantly lower in patients than in controls (femoral neck, total femur, and distal femur); no difference was observed between BMD of the lumbar spine of patients and controls. We found inverse relationship between time of SCI and bone mineral mass only for distal femur BMD. We conclude that the distal femur is a more sensitive bone site for assessing bone loss by DXA, in SCI patients, than the proximal femoral sites.

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