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Scand J Rheumatol. 1999;28(6):363-7.

Bone mineral density of the lumbar spine in patients with advanced rheumatoid arthritis. Influence of functional capacity and corticosteroid use.

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Department of Medicine, University of Turku, Finland.


We investigated factors that are related to generalized osteoporosis in advanced rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In this cross-sectional study we measured trabecular bone mineral density (BMD), by quantitative computerized tomography (QCT), in the lumbar spine of 57 patients with RA, most of whom were premenopausal women. In our material, 27 out of 57 patients (47%) had BMD <-1 SD expressed as Z-score and five patients had suffered from fractures. Our study shows that a cumulative corticosteroid dose (r = -0.41, p<0.010) and functional impairment (r = -0.37, p<0.050) were negatively related to spinal BMD, while daily intake of calcium correlated positively on BMD (r = 0.37, p<0.010). Our results indicate that low BMD is common in patients with advanced RA and it is associated with long-term corticosteroid use. Thus, in clinical practice we have to consider the benefits and harms of corticosteroid treatment and preventive therapy to osteoporosis.

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