Paget Disease of Bone for Primary Care

Nahid J Rianon, Jude K des Bordes
American Family Physician 2020 August 15, 102 (4): 224-228
Paget disease of bone is a benign disorder characterized by focal areas of increased bone turnover in one or more skeletal sites. It usually affects older adults, and men are at a higher risk than women. Any bone may be affected, but the disease has a high preference for the pelvis, spine, skull, and long bones. Pain is the most common symptom, and presentation of the disease may depend on which bones are affected, the extent of involvement, and the presence of complications. Paget disease of bone may be asymptomatic, and suspicion arises from incidental findings of elevated serum alkaline phosphatase levels on routine blood work or abnormalities on imaging tests performed for an unrelated cause. Evidence-based guidelines recommend the use of plain radiography and serum alkaline phosphatase testing for initial diagnosis and radionuclide scans for delineation of the extent of disease. Treatment with nitrogen-containing bisphosphonates is recommended in active disease or when risk of complications is possible. Complications of the disease include arthritis, gait changes, hearing loss, nerve compression syndromes, and osteosarcoma. Total serum alkaline phosphatase is the suggested marker for assessing treatment response when high bone turnover occurs, and it should be measured at three to six months to evaluate initial response. Early diagnosis of Paget disease of bone remains key to its management because patients generally have a good prognosis if treatment is initiated before major complications arise. The primary care physician may need to consult with a specialist for confirmation of diagnosis and initiation of treatment.

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