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New Scan Spots Beginning of Bone Problems in Anorexics
Date:11/19/2008

>"This is a CT scan that makes very thin slices of bone to see bone structure," said Bredella, who is an assistant professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School and a musculoskeletal radiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital. "It uses a low dose of radiation, about the same as from the background radiation over a three-day period."

The CT scans showed no significant difference in bone mineral density in the two groups. They did show significant structural differences, indicating that the first bone problems in anorexia begin before changes in bone density can be detected.

"There can be early or mild already abnormal bone structure, while bone density appears normal," Bredella said.

Early detection of bone problems is desirable, because "deficits in adolescence result in low peak bone mass and increased risk of fracture in adult life," Bredella said. "It can be done with a modality that evaluates bone structure as well as density."

Tests to detect changes in bone structure might be done "if an adolescent has the disease for a while, and it is not getting better," she said. While the flat-panel volume CT scan used by her group is not widely available, other CT scans in wide clinical use can detect bone structure abnormalities, Bredella said.

There are established treatments, such as low-dose testosterone, that can be used to treat bone disorders in anorexia, she said.

More information

Anorexia, its effects and treatment, are described by the U.S. National Women's Health Information Center.



SOURCES: Miriam A. Bredella, M.D., assistant professor, radiology, Harvard Medical School, Boston; Michelle Warren, professor, medicine, and obstetrics and gynecology, Columbia University, New York City; December 2008, Radiology


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