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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1989 Oct;161(4):843-8.

Monitoring skeletal response to estrogen.

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Department of Medical Physics, University of Wisconsin, Madison.


Estrogen replacement therapy at accepted doses is not fully effective in preventing bone loss and fractures in postmenopausal women. Bone densitometry is useful for monitoring estrogen replacement therapy to assess dose, foster compliance, and check for secondary bone loss. The most appropriate site for bone loss monitoring is probably the spine because it shows larger decreases at the menopause than appendicular sites, it shows larger increases with therapy, and it has clinical import in terms of fracture. Both dual-photon absorptiometry (or dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry) and computed tomography are the preferred monitoring methods. The precision of these densitometry methods is generally adequate to permit interim decisions with regard to continuing therapy, as well as conclusive decisions on therapeutic efficacy after 1 to 2 years of monitoring. Judicious use of densitometry in combination with biochemical determinations can enhance therapeutic control and provide both patient and physician confidence in long-term estrogen replacement therapy.

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