Research Article| Volume 27, ISSUE 1, P61-68, May 1997

Bone effects of transdermal hormone replacement therapy in postmenopausal women as evaluated by means of ultrasound: an open one-year prospective study

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      Objectives: To evaluate the effectiveness of transdermal oestrogen replacement therapy plus medrogestone (HRT) in postmenopausal bone loss prevention by means of US. Methods: We enrolled 112 healthy postmenopausal women in an open, prospective study. These women, after a gynaecological evaluation and an US assessment of the skeletal status, were advised to take cyclic sequential oestrogen/progestagen therapy: 50 μg/day of transdermal 17β-oestradiol (Rotta Research Laboratorium) plus 5 mg/day of medrogestone, for 12 days per cycle (Wyeth-Ayerst). After 1 year we recalled these women: only 32 of them were taking HRT, while 49 had declined HRT without taking alternative therapies. The remaining women were excluded from the study as they were either unavailable for the check-up or they were taking prohibited therapies. We used DBM Sonic 1200 (Igea, Italy) to assess US parameter changes at phalanxes at enrolment and after 1 year. This device enabled us to evaluate US transmission velocity (AD-SoS) and US attenuation pattern (UBPS). In a previous study we had evaluated the intra- and inter-observer reproducibility of AD-SoS measurements (0.4 and 1.0% respectively). Using the same data we evaluated the intra- and inter-observer precision of UBPS. Results: The UBPS intra-operator reproducibilities were 5.3% and 6.1% (for the 1st and the 2nd operator, respectively), while inter-observer precision was 8.8%. Both AD-SoS and UBPS significantly decreased in the non-user group (−0.7%, P < 0.001 and −14.3%, P < 0.001 respectively). In the user group AD-SoS showed a significant increase (+0.7%, P < 0.01), while a slight but significant decrease was observed for UBPS (−2.8%, P < 0.05). Conclusions: Our findings show that the effectiveness of transdermal HRT in slowing or even arresting postmenopausal bone loss can be monitored by quantitative US studies. The trend difference observed between AD-SoS and UBPS with and without therapy is at least partially explained by a different response to HRT with regard to bone density as well as structure.


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