Bone loss following spinal cord injury
Ali H Otom, M Rami Al-Ahmar
Rheumatology and Rehabilitation Department, Royal Rehabilitation Centre, King Hussein Medical Centre, Amman, Jordan
Background: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the pattern of bone loss and its consequences in a group of spinal cord injury (SCI) patients managed at the Spinal Unit-Royal Rehabilitation Centre, King Hussein Medical Centre, and its correlation with level and extent of injury, age, and time since injury.
Methods: Bone mineral density (BMD) was measured by dual energy x-ray absorptiometry at the lumbar spine and femoral neck in a group of patients who had suffered an SCI a mean of 8.6 (range 1–31) years earlier and had completed their medical and rehabilitation program during the period July 2003 to December 2013. The patients were diagnosed to have osteoporosis according to World Health Organization criteria and their fracture risk was estimated from this score using published data. The severity of their spinal injuries ranged from class A to D according to American Spinal Injury Association criteria.
Results: Of the 55 patients included in the study, 45 were male and ten were female, with a male to female ratio of 4.5:1. Their mean age was 39.5 (range 13–61) years. Bone loss indicated by low BMD revealed that the femoral region was predominantly affected, with relative preservation of the lumbar spine. Abnormal BMD values were detected in 83.6% of subjects, and fractures occurred in 16.4% following minor trauma. A positive correlation was noted between time since injury and degree of osteoporosis. Individuals with complete lesions showed lower BMD values than those with incomplete lesions. No significant correlation was found with age or sex.
Conclusion: SCI patients are at high risk of developing osteoporosis, which can lead to significant morbidity, particularly lower extremity fractures without significant trauma. Prevention and early treatment of bone loss are important in this patient group to avoid further functional impairment.
Keywords: osteoporosis, spinal cord injury, bone loss, bone mineral density, American Spinal Injury Association
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