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Bone Densitometry and Clinical Decision-Making in Osteoporosis

B. Lawrence Riggs, M.D.; and Heinz W. Wahner, M.D.
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Mayo Clinic and FoundationRochester, Minnesota

Ann Intern Med. 1988;108(2):293-295. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-108-2-293
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During the last 6 years the development of methods that measure bone mineral density accurately at important sites of fracture represents a real advance in care of patients with osteoporosis, a disease costing $7 to $10 billion annually in the United States (1). The bone mineral density of the axial skeleton, formerly only crudely estimated from roentgenograms can now be measured with a precision of 2% to 3% by dual photon absorptiometry for the vertebrae or proximal femur (2) and of 3% to 5% by quantitative computed tomography for the vertebrae (3). Precision is defined as (standard deviation of replicate


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