10 June 2004
Bone development is one of the key processes characterizing childhood and adolescence. Understanding this process is not only important for physicians treating pediatric bone disorders, but also for clinicians and researchers dealing with postmenopausal and senile osteoporosis. Bone densitometry has great potential to enhance our understanding of bone development. The usefulness of densitometry in children and adolescents would be increased if the physiological mechanisms and structural features of bone were given more consideration in the design and interpretation of densitometric studies. This review gives an overview on the most relevant techniques of quantitative noninvasive bone analysis. Furthermore it describes the relationship between bone biology, selected surrogates describing the biological processes and the possibilities of measuring these surrogates specifically and precisely by the different devices. The overall recommendation for researchers in this field is to describe firstly the biological process to be analyzed (bone growth in length, remodeling or modeling, or all together), secondly the bone parameter which describes this process, and thirdly the reason for selecting a special device.