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Clinical challenges in the management of osteoporosis

Authors Sheryl F Vondracek, Paul Minne, Michael T McDermott

Published 6 June 2008 Volume 2008:3(2) Pages 315—329


Sheryl F Vondracek1, Paul Minne2, Michael T McDermott3

1Department of Clinical Pharmacy, University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, Denver, CO, USA; 2Amgen Medical Affairs, Denver, CO, USA; 3Director of the Endocrine and Diabetes Practice, Department of Medicine, University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, Denver, CO, USA

Abstract: While knowledge regarding the diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis has expanded dramatically over the last few years, gaps in knowledge still exist with guidance lacking on the appropriate management of several common clinical scenarios. This article uses fictional clinical scenarios to help answer three challenging questions commonly encountered in clinical practice. The first clinical challenge is when to initiate drug therapy in a patient with low bone density. It is estimated that 34 million Americans have low bone density and are at a higher risk for low trauma fractures. Limitations of using bone mineral density alone for drug therapy decisions, absolute risk assessment and evidence for the cost-effectiveness of therapy in this population are presented. The second clinical challenge is the prevention and treatment of vitamin D deficiency. Appropriate definitions for vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency, the populations at risk for low vitamin, potential consequences of low vitamin D, and how to manage a patient with low vitamin D are reviewed. The third clinical challenge is how to manage a patient receiving drug therapy for osteoporosis who has been deemed a potential treatment failure. How to define treatment failure, common causes of treatment failure, and the approach to the management of a patient who is not responding to appropriate osteoporosis therapy are discussed.

Keywords: osteoporosis, osteopenia, bisphosphonate, vitamin D, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry

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