Lateral radiographs of the thoracic and lumbar spine were taken periodically in 49 patients with osteoporosis. Thirty patients were postmenopausal, and 19 nonmenopausal with osteoporosis due to steroids, male hypogonadism, alcoholism, thyrotoxicosis or unknown cause. Patients were studied before, during and after treatment with high calcium alone, or with combined calcium and sex steroids. Calcium was given as effervescent calcium lactate gluconate, and sex hormones as oestradiol valerate, testosterone oenanthate, or methenolone oenanthate. A total of 964 films covering 409 patient-years were available for measurement. On each vertebra, deformity due to loss of anterior height was measured and assigned to one of four grades. For the time interval between each consecutive pair of films, a patient's vertebral fracture rate score was calculated and expressed per thousand patient-years.In comparison with the corresponding pretreatment fracture rate score, both the postmenopausal and the nonmenopausal groups who had not received sex hormones previously, failed to show significant changes (p = 0.144; p = 0.017) on high calcium alone during mean periods of 4.3 and 2.8 years respectively. If the first 2 years on high calcium were excluded for the postmenopausal group, they still failed to show a reduction in fracture rate score (observed for a mean period of 5.0 years; p = 0.04).When treated with combined calcium and sex hormones, both postmenopausal and nonmenopausal groups showed a lower fracture rate score of 20 and 207 respectively when compared with the pretreatment levels of 1500 and 1697 (in mean treatment periods of 3.2 and 4.4 years; p <0.001 in each case). When given high-dose calcium alone, but after treatment with sex hormones as well, the postmenopausal group showed no change in fracture rate score from pretreatment (in a mean of 3.1 years; p = 0.069); however the nonmenopausal group still showed a significant reduction in fracture rate score from 1697 to 42 over a mean period of 2.3 years (p = 0.001). The postmenopausal group, after stopping all treatment, showed a higher fracture rate score of 1286 (in a mean of 2.6 years) than did those on combined calcium and sex hormones, in whom the fracture rate score was 20 (in a mean of 3.2 years; p = 0.008). A subgroup of 11 patients with osteoporosis of both the menopausal and nonmenopausal types, had data both before (in a mean of 5.5 years) and during (for a mean of 2.5 years) treatment with calcium alone; the fracture rate scores were 1473 and 918 (p = 0.247). Data were available for nine patients both before (for mean of 5.5 years) and during (for a mean of 5.5 years) treatment with calcium and sex hormones; the fracture rate score fell from 1397 to 100 (p = 0.001).It is concluded that in groups with both menopausal and nonmenopausal osteoporosis, vertebral fracturing was reduced by treatment with combined calcium and sex hormones, but no significant effect from calcium alone was shown. In both groups, cessation of therapy was associated with a return to near the pretreatment fracture rate score, strongly suggesting the need for lifelong treatment.
|Journal||Quarterly Journal of Medicine|
|Issue number||New Series 83|
|Publication status||Published - 1992|