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26-04-2010 | Bone health | Article

Vertebrae dimensions increase in osteoporotic older women


Free abstract

MedWire News: Vertebral body dimensions increase in postmenopausal osteoporosis patients taking vitamin D and calcium supplements, suggest study findings.

Age-related bone loss causes cortical thinning and increased porosity that is compensated for by subperiosteal bone formation, resulting in increased bone cross-section area, explain Christian Roux (Cochin Hospital, Paris, France) and co-authors.

Noting that this phenomenon has been recorded in the tubular bones of the femoral neck, distal radius, and distal tibia, the team questioned whether a similar process occurs in the vertebrae.

To investigate, the researchers examined annual thoracic and lumbar spine radiographs taken over 3 years for 2017 women with postmenopausal osteoporosis, aged an average of 73.4 years at baseline.

Vertebral bodies without evidence of osteoporotic fracture from T4 to L4 were marked and measured from four corner points and two points in the center of the upper and lower endplates to determine changes in vertebral body perimeter, area, and depth between baseline and year 3.

As reported in the journal Bone, thoracic vertebral body dimensions increased over the study by an average of 2.1% in depth, 1.7% in area, and 1.5% in perimeter. Similarly, lumbar vertebrae dimensions increased by an average of 1.4%, 1.4%, and 0.7%, respectively.

The increase in dimensions was significant for all vertebrae between T5 and L4, the researchers say.

Age was not significantly associated with change in vertebral dimensions and the researchers suggest this may be due to the patients adhering to treatment for osteoporosis, such as use of calcium and vitamin D supplements.

Calcium has been shown to improve bone size, density, and mineral content in prepubertal girls, but the researchers note that they are “not aware of any data showing that such an effect may be observed in adults and in the elderly.”

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Lynda Williams

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