Supralesional and sublesional bone mineral density in spinal cord-injured patients

Bone. 2000 Aug;27(2):305-9. doi: 10.1016/s8756-3282(00)00326-4.


This study was performed to evaluate supra- and sublesional bone mineral density (BMD) in spinal cord-injured (SCI) patients after 1 year postinjury, and to correlate the BMD to the neurological level; to correlate the sublesional demineralization to functional parameters (duration postinjury, duration of the initial bedrest); and to assess the role of classic methods of prevention such as walking or standing. Thirty-one SCI patients, all male, were studied vs. 31 controls (age matched). The mean age of the population was 36 years (range 18-60 years). Eleven were tetraplegic and 20 were paraplegic. Twenty-six patients dysplayed a complete motor lesion. The BMD was measured by dual-photon absorptiometry on the lumbar spine and on the femoral neck, and the bone mineral content (BMC) on whole-body scans. Particular attention was paid to the distal femur and proximal tibia upper third. Blood samples and urine samples included phosphocalcic parameters, with determination of urinary hydroxyproline and deoxypyridinoline. SCI patients showed a decrease of sublesional BMD of 41% in comparison with controls. This loss of bone mass is higher at the distal femur (-52%) and proximal tibia (-70%), which are the most common sites of fracture. The degree of demineralization for the lumbar spine, the pelvis, and the lower limbs is independent of the neurological level. The duration of acute posttraumatic immobilization (mean 43.3 days) and the time postinjury increase the loss of bone mass for lower limbs (p = 0.04) and particularly for the proximal tibia (p = 0.02). The study of biomechanical stress (i.e., standing, walking, sitting) does not influence the sublesional BMC. This study underlines the major role of the neurological lesion on the decrease of sublesional BMC in SCI patients and the absence of influence of biomechanical stress.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bed Rest / adverse effects
  • Bone Density*
  • Braces
  • Calcification, Physiologic
  • Calcium / blood
  • Calcium / urine
  • Femur / pathology
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Osteoporosis / pathology*
  • Paraplegia / pathology
  • Phosphates / blood
  • Phosphates / urine
  • Posture
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / pathology*
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Tibia / pathology


  • Phosphates
  • Calcium