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Updated: Jan 25 2023


  • Snapshot
    • A 67-year-old woman presents to the emergency department after falling while walking down the stairs of her home. She landed on her rear on a carpeted floor and denies hitting her head. She experienced severe pain in her right hip after the fall and is unable to bear weight on the affected side. Menopause began 17 years ago. She has smoked 1-pack of cigarettes for the past 40 years. On physical exam, her right leg is shortened, adducted, and externally rotated. Laboratory testing is unremarkable.
  • Introduction
    • Clinical definition
      • decreased bone mass (osteopenia) that significantly increases the patient's risk of fracture
  • Epidemiology
    • Incidence
      • most common types of osteoporosis are
        • post-menopausal
        • senile
    • Risk factors
      • post-menopausal women
      • being ≥ 65 years of age
      • people of Caucasian and Asian descent
      • lifestyle factors such as
        • poor physical activity
        • vitamin D deficiency and poor calcium intake
        • smoking
        • alcohol use disorder
      • medications such as
        • warfarin, lithium, proton pump inhibitors, and glucocorticoids
      • hyperparathyroidism
      • hyperthyroidism
      • multiple myeloma
      • malabsorption syndromes
  • Etiology
    • Pathogenesis
      • in young adulthood, peak bone mass is achieved and this is determined by a number of factors (e.g., genetics)
        • after this peak bone mass is attained, there is a small decrease in bone formation with every cycle of bone remodeling
          • senile osteoporosis
            • osteoblasts have their biosynthetic and proliferative ability reduced with age
          • poor physical activity
            • mechanical force on bone stimulates bone remodeling
              • athletes have increased bone density
            • decreased physical activity results in bone loss
          • decreased estrogen levels
            • such as in menopause, decreased estrogen levels increase bone resportion and formation
              • however, the rate of formation is less than resorption resulting in a net bone loss
              • increased osteoclast activity is significant in areas of bone with large surface area
                • such as the vertebral bodies, leading to vertebral compression fractures
          • there is trabecular and cortical bone loss
  • Presentation
    • Symptoms
      • fractures (e.g., vertberal and hip), otherwise, patients are typically asymptomatic
    • Physical exam
      • may see loss in height
  • Imaging
    • DEXA
      • indication
        • all women ≥ 65 and all men ≥ 70 years of age
        • smoking and sedentary lifestyles are risk factors
      • notes
        • T-score ≤ -2.5
  • Studies
    • Labs
      • serum calcium, phosphorus, parathyroid hormone, and alkaline phosphatase are normal
    • Histology
      • histologically normal; however, there is a decreased quantity of normal bone
  • Differential
    • Laboratory Abnormalities in Select Bone Disorders
      Serum Phosphate
      Serum Calcium
      Serum Alkaline Phosphatase
      Parathyroid Hormone
      Osteomalacia / ricketsDecreasedDecreasedIncreasedIncreased
      OsteopetrosisNormalNormal or decreasedNormalNormal
      Paget disease of the boneNormalNormalElevatedNormal
      Osteitis fibrosa cysticaPrimary
      •hyperparathyroidism- decreased
      Primary and secondary hyperparathyroidism
      Primary and secondary hyperparathyroidism
      Hypervitaminosis DIncreasedIncreasedNormalDecreased
  • Treatment
    • Conservative
      • calcium and vitamin D supplementation
      • strength training
      • smoking cessation
    • Medical
      • bisphosphonates
        • indication
          • first-line for pharmacologic therapy in osteoporosis
      • raloxifene
        • second line therapy for osteoporosis
        • can cause hot flashes and venous thromboembolism
        • does not cause endometrial hyperplasia or increase risk of breast cancer
      • teriparatide
        • indication
          • considered first-line in patients with a very high risk of fracture
  • Complications
    • Fractures
  • Prognosis
    • Generally good if detected early and appropriately managed
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