Objective: To investigate whether recently developed in vivo high-resolution magnetic resonance-imaging and micro-finite element techniques can monitor changes in bone mechanical properties during long-term clinical trials aiming at evaluating the efficacy of new drugs for the treatment of osteoporosis.
Design: Comparison of baseline and follow-up mechanical parameters calculated using micro-finite element analysis of the calcaneus for subjects participating in a study investigating the effect of idoxifene.
Background: Contemporary measurements for the evaluation of bone mechanical properties, based on dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry measurements, are not very accurate and require large trial populations.
Methods: A total of 56 postmenopausal subjects received either a placebo, 5 mg or 10 mg per day of idoxifene. Magnetic resonance-images of the calcaneus were made at baseline and after one year. Mechanical parameters of a trabecular volume of interest in the calcaneus were calculated using micro-finite element analysis.
Results: Although there were no significant differences between the mean changes in the treated groups and the placebo group, there were significant changes from baseline within groups after one year of treatment. Significant changes, however, were found only for mechanical parameters and only in the treated groups.
Conclusions: The present study is the first demonstration that longitudinal changes in bone mechanical properties due to trabecular micro-architectural changes may be quantified in long-term clinical studies. Since significant changes in mechanical parameters were obtained for the treated groups whereas no significant change in bone mass was found we conclude that the application of these techniques may increase the clinical significance of these trials.
Relevance: A precise diagnosis of in vivo bone mechanical properties that accounts for (changes in) trabecular bone architecture is of particular importance for longitudinal clinical trials aiming at evaluating the efficacy of new drugs since it can lead to clinically relevant results from shorter follow-up intervals and may enable a reduction of the number of patients involved in the trial.
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