Background/aims: To identify indicators of osteoporosis and to determine the rate of bone loss in patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC).
Methods: Bone mineral density of the lumbar spine and hip was measured at annual intervals over 7 years of follow-up in 176 patients with PBC.
Results: Osteoporosis (t-score below -2.5) was found in 20% of patients and occurred 32.1 times more frequently in patients with PBC than expected. Patients with histologic stage 3 or 4 disease had a 5.4-fold increased risk of osteoporosis compared to patients with stage 1 or 2. Age, body mass index, advanced stage (3 or 4), and history of fractures were the only independent indicators of osteoporosis. After 3 years of follow up, the rate of bone loss in patients with stage 1 or 2 increased and equaled that seen in patients with stage 3 or 4. Serum bilirubin level was the only variable independently associated with the rate of bone loss over time.
Conclusions: Severity of the liver disease contributes significantly to the severity of bone disease in PBC. PBC patients who are older, thinner and have more advanced liver disease may have the most benefit from bone density measurements and treatment for their osteoporosis.