Etridronate therapy in the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis.
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Etidronate disodium is an oral bisphosphonate compound known to reduce bone resorption through the inhibition of osteoclastic activity. This article is a review of its efficacy and safety in the treatment and prevention of postmenopausal and corticosteroid-induced osteoporosis. In general, studies of cyclical etidronate therapy (400 mg daily for 2 wk every 3 mo) have found a significant improvement in bone density. These studies have not been powered to study fracture incidence, but a reduced fracture rate has been found in some of the studies reviewed. Studies examining cyclical etidronate in the prevention of osteoporosis indicate it prevents early menopausal bone loss and is free of significant side effects. In both prevention of corticosteroid-induced osteoporosis and treatment of patients who have been on long-term corticosteroid therapy, cyclical etidronate appears to increase bone density and prevent further loss of bone. In summary, a review of available literature pertaining to the use of etidronate in prevention and treatment of primary and secondary osteoporosis has been presented. This review suggests etidronate, used as a cyclical therapy, is a safe and effective therapy. The weight of evidence suggests it is capable of reducing fracture risk in patients with osteoporosis. Increases in bone density at the spine and hip are not as pronounced as with some other bisphosphonates, particularly alendronate, but no direct clinical comparison trials of significant size or duration have been undertaken.