Background/Aim: Osteoporosis is a common complication of primary biliary cirrhosis but there is no accepted therapy for the osteoporosis. In this randomized controlled trial, we compared the effects of etidronate to placebo on the treatment of osteoporosis associated with primary biliary cirrhosis. Methods: Sixty-seven patients with primary biliary cirrhosis and osteopenia, defined by bone mineral density criteria (T-score <-2.0) were enrolled. Measurements of the lumbar spine and proximal femur, as well as x-rays of the lumbar spine, were obtained. Patients received cyclical etidronate 400 mg/day for 14 days every 3 months for at least 1 year. Supplemental calcium was administered on the days patients did not receive etidronate. Results: Of the 67 patients entered, 60 completed at least 1 year of therapy. There was no significant difference in changes in bone density at either the lumbar spine or femur in patients receiving etidronate when compared to placebo. Fractures occurred in eight patients, four receiving etidronate. Etidronate therapy was associated with a significant reduction in markers of bone turnover compared to placebo. These changes did not correlate with changes in bone density. Conclusions: Cyclical etidronate administered with supplemental calcium did not significantly improve bone density in patients with primary biliary cirrhosis.
- Primary biliary cirrhosis
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