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OBJECTIVE—To test the hypothesis that enthesophyte formation and osteophyte growth are positively associated and to look for associations between bone formation at different sites on the skeleton so that a simple measure of bone formation could be derived.
METHODS—Visual examination of 337 adult skeletons. All common sites of either enthesophyte or osteophyte formation were inspected by a single observer who graded bone formation at these sites on a 0-3 scale. The total score for each feature was divided by the number of sites examined to derive an enthesophyte and an osteophyte score. Cronbach's α and principal components analysis were used to identify groupings.
RESULTS—Enthesophyte formation was associated with gender (M>F) and age. There was a positive correlation between enthesophytes and osteophytes (r = 0.65, 95% confidence interval, 0.58 to 0.71) which remained after correction for age and gender. Principal components analysis indicated four different groupings of enthesophyte formation. By choosing one site from each group a simple index of total skeletal bone formation could be derived.
CONCLUSIONS—Osteophytes and enthesophytes are associated, such that a proportion of the population can be classified as "bone formers". Enthesophyte groupings provide some clues to aetiopathogenesis. Bone formation should be investigated as a possible determinant of the heterogeneity of outcome and of treatment responses in common musculoskeletal disorders.