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Spinal Cord Dysfunction In Paget's Disease Of Bone. Has Medical Treatment A Vascular Basis?

DL Douglas, T Duckworth, JA Kanis, AA Jefferson, TJ Martin, RG Russell

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The medical treatment of eight patients with paraparesis associated with Paget's disease of the vertebrae is described. Treatment, for 3 to 87 months, with calcitonin or with diphosphonates produced marked clinical improvement in seven of these patients. From this series and a review of 19 additional case reports it is concluded that favourable clinical response is seen in about 90 per cent of patients, and that this may occur very rapidly. Results are as good or better than those obtained by surgical decompression. It seems possible that paraparesis in some cases may be due to diversion of blood supply from the spinal cord to the highly vascular Pagetic bone giving rise to a vascular "steal" syndrome. It is suggested that medical treatment should be used more widely to avoid or delay the need for operation and reduce the risks of recurrence. These patients, however treated, require lifelong follow-up because relapses are common.