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Rev Endocr Metab Disord. 2012 Sep;13(3):209-23. doi: 10.1007/s11154-011-9187-z.

Treatment of osteopenia.

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Department of Clinical Endocrinology, Oslo University Hospital, Aker, Trondheimsveien 235, 0514, Oslo, Norway.


The majority of osteoporotic fractures happen in individuals with BMD t-scores in the osteopenic range (-2,5< t-score <-1). However, widespread use of anti-osteoporotic medication in this group based on t-score alone is not advisable because: 1) the number needed to treat is much higher (NNT>100) than in patients with fractured and t-score below -2,5 (NNT 10-20); 2)while specific osteoporosis treatments have demonstrated significant reductions of the fracture risk in patients with t-score <-2, 5, the efficacy in patients in the osteopenic range is less well established. Therefore, an osteopenic t-score does not in itself constitute a treatment imperative. Generally, osteopenia has to be associated with either low energy fracture(s) or very high risk for future fracture as assessed with risk calculators like FRAX to warrant specific osteoporosis therapy. Vertebral fractures are now conveniently assessed using lateral x-rays from DXA machines. In the vast majority of cases antiresorptive treatments (mainly hormone replacement therapy and SERMS in younger and bisphosphonates or Denosumab in older women) are the treatments of choice in this group of patients,-only rarely is anabolic therapy indicated.

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