Osteoporosis in unstable adult scoliosis.
New noninvasive techniques as well as conventional methods were used to evaluate skeletal mass in the following three populations of adult white women as follows: (1) 79 subjects with preexisting idiopathic scoliosis designated as unstable (US) because of the associated presence in the lumbar spine of lateral spondylolisthesis with segmental instability; (2) 67 subjects with preexisting idiopathic scoliosis without lateral spondylolisthesis designated as stable (SS); and (3) 248 age-matched nonscoliotic controls. Ages in all three groups were categorized into premenopausal (25-44 years), perimenopausal (45-54 years), and postmenopausal (55-84 years). The results showed higher scoliosis morbidity in the US compared to the SS populations. The prevalence and severity of osteoporosis were markedly increased in US versus SS populations. Femoral neck density determined by dual-photon absorptiometry techniques averaged 26% to 48% lower in all age categories of US patients compared to controls. These changes were found in the youngest age groups, indicating reductions in bone mineral content earlier in the adult life of white women with a specific type of high-morbidity US characterized by the marker of lateral spondylolisthesis.