, Volume 55, Issue 5, pp 324-329

Metacarpal bone mass in normal and osteoporotic Japanese women using computed X-ray densitometry

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The metacarpal bone mineral density (BMD) and metacarpal index (MCI) of the second metacarpal bone were measured by computed X-ray densitometry (CXD) (Teijin Ltd., Tokyo), which we have established with the development of microdensitometry of radiographs. In this study, we evaluated the basic attributes of this CXD method and determined the age-related changes in both metacarpal measurements in normal Japanese women. The precision in vivo was measured in eight subjects. The precision errors [coefficient of variation (CV)] were 0.2–1.2% CV for metacarpal BMD and 0.4–2.0% CV for MCI, respectively. We have obtained low precision error and more rapid analysis, within 3 minutes respectively, compared with the previous methods. Age-related changes in the metacarpal measurements were evaluated in 1438 normal women. Both measurements showed the most significant decrease in the sixth decade of life. The rate of decrease in the sixth decade was 1.6%/year for metacarpal BMD and 1.5%/year for MCI. On comparison between metacarpal BMD by CXD and spine BMD using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) in 248 normal women with and without menstruation, the two measurements were found to be similarly decreased in the subjects within 5 years after menopause. There was also no significant difference in the Z-score between metacarpal BMD and spine BMD within 5 years after menopause. These results indicate that early postmenopausal bone loss occurs not only in the spine but also in the metacarpal bone. The metacarpal BMD for patients with osteoporosis was significantly lower than that for age-matched normal controls, although the Z-score for spine BMD (-1.46) was significantly better than that for metacarpal BMD (-0.82). In conclusion, because CXD has excellent low precision error and is widely available at relatively low cost, it appears potentially to be applicable to problems in the diagnosis and management of osteoporosis, when used in association with DXA.