ALFRED PASIEKA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ALFRED PASIEKA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Osteoporosis. Coloured digitised X-ray of lumbar vertebrae (in side view) affected by osteoporosis. Osteoporosis or brittle bone disease is character- ised by a loss of the protein matrix in bone. Here, in the lower back (lumbar) region, square vertebral bodies are seen inside which there is decreased bone density (dark dotted areas). When the vertebrae are affected by osteoporosis, inter- vertebral spaces between the vertebrae also become widened and tend to appear wedged or biconcave. Women are most prone to osteoporosis, after the onset of menopause, because lowered levels of oestrogen hormones no longer maintain bone mass. Treatment may include hormone replacement therapy.
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