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Bone loss: Quantitative imaging techniques for assessing bone mass in rheumatoid arthritis

Christopher F Njeh and Harry K Genant

Author Affiliations

Department of Radiology, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA

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Arthritis Res 2000, 2:446-450  doi:10.1186/ar126

Published: 3 August 2000


Osteoporosis is associated with low bone mass and microarchitectural deterioration of bone tissue with clinical manifestation of low trauma fractures. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a risk factor due to generalized and articular bone loss. This minireview presents past and current bone mass measurement techniques in RA. These techniques include: plain radiographs, absorptiometry, quantitative computed tomography (QCT) and ultrasound. The most widely used technique is dual x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). RA patients have lower bone mass as compared with normals and substantial bone loss may occur early after the onset of disease. Measurement of bone mineral density (BMD) at the hand using either DXA or ultrasound maybe a useful tool in the management of RA patients.

bone density; bone loss; osteoporosis; quantitative ultrasound; rheumatoid arthritis; x-ray absorptiometry