Background: Low bone mineral density (BMD) is prevalent in adults with cystic fibrosis. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of intravenous pamidronate on BMD in these subjects.
Methods: Patients were invited to participate if they had a BMD Z score of -2 or less in the lumbar spine, proximal femur, or distal forearm. Patients were randomised to receive either 30 mg intravenous pamidronate every 3 months + 1 g calcium daily (pamidronate group) or 1 g calcium daily (control group). All pancreatic insufficient patients were prescribed oral vitamin D supplements.
Results: After 6 months of treatment the pamidronate group (n=13) showed a significant increase in absolute BMD compared with the control group (n=15) in the lumbar spine (mean difference 5.8% (CI 2.7% to 8.9%)) and total hip (mean difference 3.0% (CI 0.3% to 5.6%)). However, the pamidronate group showed a reduction in BMD compared with the control group in the distal forearm (mean difference -1.7% (CI -3.7% to 0.3%)). The use of pamidronate was associated with a high incidence of bone pain in non-corticosteroid treated individuals.
Conclusion: Intravenous pamidronate increases axial BMD in adults with cystic fibrosis, but the high incidence of bone pain associated with this treatment might limit its use.