Bone mineral density (BMD) was measured in 140 normal young women (aged 20 to 39 years) and in 423 consecutive women over age 40 referred for evaluation of osteoporosis. Lumbar spine and proximal femur BMD was measured using dual‐photon absorptiometry (153Gd), whereas the radius shaft measurement used single‐photon absorptiometry (125I). There were 324 older women with no fractures, of which 278 aged 60 to 80 years served as age‐matched controls. There were 99 women with fractures including 32 with vertebral and 22 with hip fractures. Subsequently, another 25 women with hip fractures had BMD measured in another laboratory; their mean BMD was within 2% of that of the original series. The mean age in both the nonfracture and fracture groups was 70 ± 5 years. The BMD in the age‐matched controls was 20% to 25% below that of normal young women for the radius, spine, and femur, but the Ward's triangle region of the femur showed even greater loss (35%). The mean BMD at all sites in the crush fracture cases was about 10% to 15% below that of age‐matched controls. Spinal abnormality was best discriminated by spine and femoral measurements (Z score about 0.9). In women with hip fractures, the BMD was 10% below that of age‐matched controls for the radius and the spine, and the BMD for the femoral sites was about 25% to 30% below that of age‐matched control (Z score about 1.6). Femoral densities gave the best discrimination of hip fracture cases and even reflected spinal osteopenia. In contrast, neither the spine nor the radius reflected the full extent of femoral osteopenia in hip fracture.
Keywords: bone density; osteoporosis; aging; fracture