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Gut. 1990 Jan;31(1):82-7.

Osteoporosis and skeletal fractures in chronic liver disease.

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Department of Endocrinology, Royal North Shore Hospital, St. Leonards, Sydney, Australia.


In order to determine the prevalence and severity of hepatic osteodystrophy by non-invasive means we compared 115 consecutive ambulant patients with histologically proven chronic liver disease to 113 age and sex matched control subjects. Methods used included the assessment of fracture prevalence rates, spinal radiography, and measurements of bone mineral density in the spine and the forearm. Spinal and peripheral fractures were more prevalent in the patients than in the control subjects (p less than 0.03 and p less than 0.01 respectively). The type of the underlying liver disease did not significantly affect the fracture prevalence rates, but alcoholic patients sustained more peripheral fractures than patients with other hepatic disorders (p less than 0.05). The bone mineral densities of the spines and the forearms were significantly reduced in male patients of all age groups and in female patients aged 60 years or more (p less than 0.001 for men and p less than 0.01 for women for both measurements). The prevalence rates of spinal and forearm osteoporosis were twice as high among patients with liver disease than in control subjects regardless of the definitions used. The presence of cirrhosis and hypogonadism were major risk factors for development of both spinal (Beta coef = 0.190 and 0.176; SE = 0.079 and 0.086 respectively) and forearm osteoporosis (Beta coef = 0.20 and 0.29; SE = 0.073 and 0.80 respectively). Spinal bone density was the predominant determinant of spinal fractures (Beta coef = -0.007; SE = 0.001), while hypogonadism (Beta coef = 0.363; SE = 0.075) and cirrhosis (Beta coef = 0.185; SE = 0.068) were the major predictors of peripheral fractures. The concentrations of serum calcium and serum vitamin D metabolites and the use of corticosteroids were apparently without effect on the prevalence of skeletal fractures or bone density.

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