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Keywords:

  • SPACEFLIGHT;
  • OSTEOPOROSIS;
  • QCT;
  • FINITE ELEMENT MODELING;
  • DXA;
  • FRACTURE;
  • MICROGRAVITY

ABSTRACT

Concern about the risk of bone loss in astronauts as a result of prolonged exposure to microgravity prompted the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to convene a Bone Summit with a panel of experts at the Johnson Space Center to review the medical data and research evidence from astronauts who have had prolonged exposure to spaceflight. Data were reviewed from 35 astronauts who had served on spaceflight missions lasting between 120 and 180 days with attention focused on astronauts who (1) were repeat fliers on long-duration missions, (2) were users of an advanced resistive exercise device (ARED), (3) were scanned by quantitative computed tomography (QCT) at the hip, (4) had hip bone strength estimated by finite element modeling, or (5) had lost >10% of areal bone mineral density (aBMD) at the hip or lumbar spine as measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Because of the limitations of DXA in describing the effects of spaceflight on bone strength, the panel recommended that the U.S. space program use QCT and finite element modeling to further study the unique effects of spaceflight (and recovery) on bone health in order to better inform clinical decisions.