, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 153-158

Assessing bone mass in children and adolescents

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Abstract

Growing awareness that osteoporosis may have its antecedents in childhood has led to increasing interest in assessing bone mass in children and adolescents. Several noninvasive imaging techniques are currently available to measure properties of the growing skeleton, including bone mass, density, cross-sectional area, and microarchitecture. Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) is the most widely used technique, but it has several major limitations associated with its dependence on two-dimensional projections. Quantitative CT and peripheral quantitative CT allow three-dimensional imaging but are more costly and have higher radiation exposure. Quantitative ultrasound is simple and inexpensive but can measure bone "quality" only at a single peripheral site. MRI techniques for measuring bone are still under development and not yet ready for clinical use. For all of these techniques, clinical interpretation of the bone measures obtained remains a significant challenge. Further research is needed to relate these measures to osteoporosis in the elderly and to shortterm and long-term fracture risk.