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J Clin Densitom. 2000 Summer;3(2):141-7.

Quantitative ultrasound: an indicator of osteoporosis in perimenopausal women.

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  • 1Department of Orthopedics and Physical Rehabilitation, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, USA.


The key to effective treatment of osteoporosis is early detection; however, the disease in perimenopausal women is frequently undiagnosed. To assess the utility of quantitative ultrasound (QUS) at the calcaneus in perimenopausal women, broadband ultrasound attenuation (BUA); speed of sound (SOS); quantitative ultra-sound index (QUI), an algorithm of BUA and SOS; and bone mineral density by dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) of the posteroanteiror spine, femoral neck, and total hip were measured in 420 women (ages 45-55 yr). Thirty (7.1%) of the women were found to be osteoporotic by DXA. All QUS measurements were predictors of osteoporosis. QUS values did not differ between postmenopausal women on estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) and those not on ERT. There were no differences among BUA, SOS, and QUI in the area under the receiver operating characteristic curves for predicting osteoporotic vs nonosteoporotic cases. At a QUI of 89, ultrasound had an 80% sensitivity for the diagnosis of osteoporosis, but only a 74% specificity. The use of QUS in perimenopausal women will facilitate the identification of women with osteoporosis. However, the high false-positive rate (26%) limits the utility of QUS as the sole diagnostic technique on which to base therapeutic decisions. Nevertheless, low QUS measurements may provide a means for targeting those women who would benefit most from more extensive evaluation (e. g., DXA).

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