Role of peripheral quantitative computed tomography in identifying disuse osteoporosis in paraplega

Coupaud, Sylvie and McLean, Alan and Allan, David (2009) Role of peripheral quantitative computed tomography in identifying disuse osteoporosis in paraplega. Skeletal Radiology, 38 (10). pp. 989-995. ISSN 0364-2348 (

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Disuse osteoporosis is a major long-term health consequence of spinal cord injury (SCI) that still needs to be addressed. Its management in SCI should begin with accurate diagnosis, followed by targeted treatments in the most vulnerable subgroups. We present data quantifying disuse osteoporosis in a cross-section of the Scottish paraplegic population to identify subgroups with lowest bone mineral density (BMD). Forty-seven people with chronic SCI at levels T2-L2 were scanned using peripheral quantitative computed tomography at four tibial sites and two femoral sites, at the Queen Elizabeth National Spinal Injuries Unit, Glasgow (UK). At the distal epiphyses, trabecular BMD (BMDtrab), total BMD, total bone crosssectional area (CSA) and bone mineral content (BMC) were determined. In the diaphyses, cortical BMD, total bone CSA, cortical CSA and BMC were calculated. Bone, muscle and fat CSAs were estimated in the lower leg and thigh. BMDtrab decreased exponentially with time since injury at different rates in the tibia and femur. At most sites, female paraplegics had significantly lower BMC, total bone CSA and muscle CSA than male paraplegics. Subjects with lumbar SCI tended to have lower bone values and smaller muscle CSAs than in thoracic SCI. Conclusion At the distal epiphyses of the tibia and femur, there is generally a rapid and extensive reduction in BMDtrab after SCI. Female subjects, and those with lumbar SCI, tend to have lower bone values than males or those with thoracic SCI, respectively.


Coupaud, Sylvie ORCID logoORCID:, McLean, Alan and Allan, David;