Summary: Extracorporeal shockwave therapy showed a pronounced effect on bone mass in previous animal studies. We showed in this pilot study that a single treatment with unfocused shockwave therapy in unselected patients does not show side effects. Although our study did not show any effect of shockwave on BMD, the limited sample size does not definitively exclude this and a study with 174 subjects per group would be needed to show an effect size of 0.3 with a power of 80%. Purpose: Unfocused extracorporeal shockwave therapy might stimulate bone formation to reduce the fracture risk. In this study, we assessed the safety of unfocused extracorporeal shockwave therapy and its effects on bone mass. Methods: A clinical pilot study with twelve female patients free of bone disease undergoing elective surgery of the lower extremity or elective spinal surgery under general anesthesia received 3.000 electrohydraulic-generated unfocused extracorporeal shockwaves (energy flux density 0.3 mJ/mm2) to one distal forearm. The contralateral forearm served as a control. We examined the effect on bone mass with the use of repeated dual energy X-ray absorptiometry measurements and we measured patient discomfort around the therapy. Results: No difference in bone mineral content and density was measured 6 and 12 weeks after therapy. shockwave therapy occasionally caused transient erythema or mild hematoma, but no discomfort in daily life or (late) adverse events. Conclusions: Unfocused extracorporeal shockwave therapy is a safe treatment, but no increase in bone mass on the forearm was found at 0.3 mJ/mm2 energy flux density. In this study, we were not able to demonstrate that a single treatment with unfocused shockwave therapy in unselected patients had any effect in terms of bone mineral density (BMD) or bone mineral content (BMC). A power analysis indicated that 174 patients per group are required to show an effect size of 0.3 with a power of 80%.
- Bone density
- High-energy shockwaves