Prevalence and risk factors for osteopenia in dialysis patients

Mark S. Stein, David K. Packham, Peter R. Ebeling, John D. Wark, Gavin J. Becker

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Dialysis patients are at risk for low bone mineral density (BMD) consequent of hyperparathyroidism, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D deficiency, previous immunosuppression, chronic acidosis, secondary amenorrhea, and chronic heparin and aluminum exposure. We wanted to determine the prevalence and distribution of osteopenia and the influence of risk factors for osteopenia in dialysis patients. Dual energy x-ray absorptiometry was used to record BMD at the lumbar spine (LS), hip, and nondominant forearm. Results were expressed as Z-scores (standard deviations from the mean of a healthy age- and gender-matched reference population). Osteopenia was defined as e Z- score worse than -2. In the 250 dialysis patients studied, the prevalence of osteopenia at the LS, femoral neck (FN) and ultradistal radius (UD) was 8%, 13% and 20%, respectively. The median Z-scores at these sites were all significantly different from the healthy reference population median of 0 and were 0.29 (P = 0.008), -0.67 (P < 0.001), and -1.01 (P < 0.001), respectively. Previous transplantation was associated with as much as a one Z-score lower BMD at the FN (P = 0.0069) and UD (P = 0.0011) and a marginally significant reduction at the LS (P = 0.0777). Previous parathyroidectomy was associated with a markedly higher LS BMD (P = 0.0001) and a higher BMD at the FN (P = 0.0017) but not the UD (P = 0.3691). A history of secondary amenorrhea was associated with a lower FN BMD (P = 0.0047) but not a significantly lower BMD at the LS (P = 0.0978) or UD (P = 0.2327). In hemodialysis patients without a history of transplantation, parathyroidectomy, or secondary amenorrhea, there was no correlation between Z-score at any site and duration of dialysis. Thus, osteopenia in dialysis patients occurs in both axial and appendicular sites and sites of compact and cancellous bone. It is more common with previous transplantation and secondary amenorrhea, whereas a history of parathyroidectomy is associated with increased BMD. No relationship was found between BMD and duration of hemodialysis, which suggests that important changes in BMD occur during the predialysis stage of chronic renal failure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-522
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Kidney Diseases
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • amenorrhea
  • densitometry
  • Dialysis
  • heparin
  • osteody strophy
  • parathyroidectomy
  • transplant

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