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Osteoporosis

Osteopenia Information

08/22/1999

Question:

A bone density test result stated "the scan of the femur is indicative of osteopenia." What is osteopenia and should it be treated?

Answer:

Osteopenia means thin bone. It is the term that has been applied to bone that is in between the normal category and the osteoporosis category. Whether medication should be started depends on how severe the osteopenia is and how many other risk factors are present. Bone density of the spine and hip is considered normal down to -1.0 standard deviation below the young, healthy control group. Osteopenia includes -1.0 to -2.5 standard deviations below young, healthy; and osteoporosis is below -2.5 standard deviations. If the osteopenia is -2.0 or lower and there are other risk factors or a strong family history, one might want to consider medication. A higher bone density could be followed with calcium, exercise and vitamin D, perhaps repeating a bone density a couple of years later. If the osteopenia was reported on a heel or wrist study, it would be advisable to obtain a spine and hip evaluation.

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Response by:

Margery   Gass, MD Margery Gass, MD
Formely, Professor, Clinical Obstetrics & Gynecology
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati