A total of 63 women who had an operation for a fracture of the hip was randomly allocated to one year of treatment either with anabolic steroids, vitamin D and calcium (anabolic group) or with calcium only (control group). The thigh muscle volume was measured by quantitative CT. The bone mineral density of the hip, femur and tibia was assessed by quantitative CT and dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry and of the heel by quantitative ultrasound.

Quantitative CT showed that the anabolic group did not lose muscle volume during the first 12 months whereas the control group did (p<0.01). There was less bone loss in the proximal tibia in the anabolic group than in the control group. The speed of gait and the Harris hip score were significantly better in the anabolic group after six and 12 months.

Anabolic steroids, even in this moderate dose, given in combination with vitamin D and calcium had a beneficial effect on muscle volume, bone mineral density and clinical function in this group of elderly women.

  • Received May 14, 2001.
  • Accepted August 21, 2001.