Bone mineral density assessment by DXA in rheumatic patients with end-stage osteoarthritis undergoing total joint arthroplasty

Background: Patients with rheumatic diseases have a high risk for joint destruction and secondary osteoarthritis (OA) as well as low bone mineral density (BMD, i.e., osteoporosis). While several factors may lead to low BMD in these patients, the value of BMD measurements in rheumatic patients with end-stage OA scheduled for total joint arthroplasty is unknown.

Methods: In this retrospective cross-sectional study of 50 adults with secondary OA due to rheumatic diseases, we evaluated dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) measurements of both hips and the spine performed within 3 months prior to arthroplasty (n = 25 total hip arthroplasty, THA; n = 25 total knee arthroplasty, TKA). We analyzed various demographic and disease-specific characteristics and their effect on DXA results by using group comparisons and multivariate linear regression models.

Results: Although patients undergoing TKA were younger (63.2 ± 14.2 vs. 71.0 ± 10.8 yr., p = 0.035), osteoporosis was observed more frequently in patients scheduled for TKA than THA (32% vs. 12%). Osteopenia was detected in 13/25 patients (52%) in both the THA and TKA cohort. In the THA cohort, female sex, lower BMI and prednisolone use were associated with lower T-score in the hip. In TKA patients, higher OA grade determined by Kellgren-Lawrence score was associated with lower T-score in the hip of the affected side.

Conclusions: Osteoporosis is present in a considerable frequency of rheumatic patients with end-stage OA, and THA and TKA patients show distinct frequencies and risk factors of low BMD. Our findings point to a potential value of DXA regarding preoperative evaluation of bone status.

Keywords: Arthroplasty; Bone mineral density; DXA; Rheumatoid arthritis.