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Osteoporos Int. 1994 Jul;4(4):191-203.

A comparison of the effects of oestrogen/progestogen, high-dose oral calcium, intermittent cyclic etidronate and an ADFR regime on calcium kinetics and bone mass in postmenopausal women with spinal osteoporosis.

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  • 1Aarhus Bone and Mineral Research Group, University Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Aarhus Amtssygehus, Denmark.


The effects of four different treatments for osteoporosis were compared in a prospective, randomized, 3-year study in 74 postmenopausal women with spinal crush fracture osteoporosis. Patients were randomly assigned to cyclic oestrogen/progestogen therapy (group 1, n = 20), a daily oral calcium dose of 2 g (group 2, n = 17), intermittent cyclic etidronate therapy (group 3, n = 19), or an ADFR treatment with triiodothyronine as activator and etidronate as depressor (group 4, n = 18). Spine and forearm bone mineral content was measured before entry and every 30 weeks. Combined calcium balance and 47Ca kinetic studies were performed before and after 1 and 3 years of treatment. Bone turnover, estimated by serum alkaline phosphatase and renal hydroxyproline excretion, decreased in all four groups during the first half of the treatment period but remained reduced during the second half in groups 1 and 3 only. Group 1 had a significantly positive calcium balance after 60 weeks of treatment. After 150 weeks, the positive effect on calcium balance was significant and greater in groups 1 and 3 than in the other groups. This was achieved by a greater reduction in resorption rate in group 1 at week 60 and in groups 1 and 3 at week 150 as compared with the other groups. Only group 1 had a significant increase in spinal bone mass while a decrease in bone mass at the distal forearm was observed in the etidronate-treated group. We conclude that treatment of postmenopausal osteoporosis with oestrogen/progestogen for 3 years results in net spinal bone gain and a positive effect on calcium balance slightly better than that of intermittent etidronate. These effects were inferior in the groups receiving a large calcium supplementation or the ADFR group where no change in calcium balance or bone mass was found.

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