Revisiting the radiographic assessment of osteoporosis-Osteopenia in children 0-2 years of age. A systematic review
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionPLOS ONE. 2020, 15(11): e0241635 10.1371/journal.pone.0241635
Background Imaging for osteoporosis has two major aims, first, to identify the presence of low bone mass (osteopenia), and second, to quantify bone mass using semiquantitative (conventional radiography) or quantitative (densitometry) methods. In young children, densitometry is hampered by the lack of reference values, and high-quality radiographs still play a role although the evaluation of osteopenia as a marker for osteoporosis is subjective and based on personal experience. Medical experts questioned in court over child abuse, often refer to the literature and state that 20–40% loss of bone mass is warranted before osteopenia becomes evident on radiographs. In our systematic review, we aimed at identifying evidence underpinning this statement. A secondary outcome was identifying normal references for cortical thickness of the skeleton in infants born term, < 2 years of age. Methods We undertook systematic searches in Medline, Embase and Svemed+, covering 1946–2020. Unpublished material was searched in Clinical trials and International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP). Both relevant subject headings and free text words were used for the following concepts: osteoporosis or osteopenia, radiography, children up to 6 years. Results A total 5592 publications were identified, of which none met the inclusion criteria for the primary outcome; the degree of bone loss warranted before osteopenia becomes visible radiographically. As for the secondary outcome, 21 studies were identified. None of the studies was true population based and none covered the pre-defined age range from 0–2 years. However, four studies of which three having a crossectional and one a longitudinal design, included newborns while one study included children 0–2 years. Conclusions Despite an extensive literature search, we did not find any studies supporting the assumption that a 20–40% bone loss is required before osteopenia becomes visible on radiographs. Reference values for cortical thickness were sparse. Further studies addressing this important topic are warranted.