Objectives: To ascertain whether patients with Crohn's disease treated with azathioprine maintained bone mineral mass better than patients treated with steroids alone.
Design: Retrospective study.
Setting: University Hospital of Malmö, Sweden.
Subjects: A total of 59 patients with ileocolonic, ileocaecal or colonic Crohn's disease.
Methods: Bone mass was assessed by dual photon X-ray absorptiometry at the level of L2-L4.
Results: Patients treated with a high lifetime dose of steroids (> 5 g prednisolone) had significantly (P = 0.011) lower Z-score of L2-L4 (-0.87 +/- 1.11; 11 SD) than steroid-treated patients, who had received a low dose of prednisolone (< 5 g) (0.08 +/- 1.16 SD). Azathioprine did not negatively influence the steroid effect on bone mineral density.
Conclusions: Azathioprine does not seem to affect bone mineral density by itself. However, by being steroid-saving, it seems to conserve bone mineral mass in patients with Crohn's disease.