Normative data of bone mineral density in an unselected adult Austrian population

Eur J Clin Invest. 2003 Apr;33(4):332-9. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2362.2003.01128.x.


Background: There is increasing evidence that correct interpretation of bone mineral density (BMD) measurements by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) requires a population-specific reference range. We therefore collected data on age-related BMD in a random sample of the normal adult Austrian population to establish an appropriate normative database.

Methods: We measured BMD by DEXA at five different skeletal sites in 1089 subjects, i.e. 654 females and 435 males, aged between 21-76 years, who had been recruited by 17 centres across Austria.

Results: Age-related bone loss was observed until age 65 years with significant changes at the lumbar spine (r = -0.23), total hip (r = -0.07), trochanter (r = -0.10), femoral neck (r = -0.30) and Ward's triangle (r = -0.40) in the women but only at the femoral neck (r = -0.23) and at Ward's triangle (r = -0.40) in the men. When we calculated T scores from the BMD data of the young normal adult study population and used the T score set points according to the WHO classification of osteopenia and osteoporosis, we found that, depending on the skeletal site measured, 7.6-27.4% of the women and 16-41% of the men in our study group had low bone mass, whereas 0.6-2.7% of the female and 0.2-1.0% of the male study population were osteoporotic. However, osteoporosis was indicated in 4-9-fold more females and 5-15-fold more males when we based our estimates on the normative data provided by the manufacturers of the DEXA systems.

Conclusion: Our data underscore the importance of using a population-specific reference range for DEXA measurements to avoid overdiagnosis of osteoporosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon / methods
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Austria / epidemiology
  • Bone Density / physiology*
  • Bone and Bones / physiology*
  • Female
  • Femur / physiology
  • Femur Neck / physiology
  • Hip / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporosis / epidemiology
  • Spine / physiology