, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 115-120
Date: 05 Nov 2004

Ankylosing spondylitis and bone mineral density—what is the ideal tool for measurement?

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Abstract

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is characterised by chronic inflammation and partial ossification, yet vertebral fractures due to osteoporosis, although common, are frequently unrecognised. The aim of this study was to (1) show the frequency of changes in the progress of osteopenia/osteoporosis in AS depending on duration and stage of the disease and (2) assess the ranking of two different methods of bone density measurement in this clinical pattern. We measured bone density in 84 male and female patients with both dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and single energy quantitative computed tomography (SE-QCT). In the initial and advanced stages of the disease, a high decrease in axial bone density could be verified (DXA: osteopenia in 5% and osteoporosis in 9.2%; SE-QCT: osteopenia in 11.8% and osteoporosis in 30.3%). Peripheral bone density decrease as in osteopenia could be proven in 17.6% by DXA measurement. With SE-QCT, a decrease in vertebral trabecular bone density could already be observed in the initial stage and continued steadily during the course of the disease; cortical bone displayed the same trend up to stages of ankylosis. With DXA, valid conclusions are more likely to be expected in less marked ankylosing stages of AS. In stages of advanced ankyloses in the vertebral region (substantial syndesmophytes), priority should be given to SE-QCT, due to the selective measurement of trabecular and cortical bone. The DXA method often yields values that are too high, and the replacement of vertebral trabecular bone by fatty bone marrow is not usually recorded as standard. There may already be an increased risk of bone fracture in AS in osteopenia on DXA along with an osteoporosis already established on SE-QCT.