Osteoporosis Screening - Bone Density Testing

Osteoporosis is characterized by low bone mass with subsequent increase in bone fragility and bone fracture risk. The spine, hip and wrist are areas most vulnerable to effects of osteoporosis.

Millions of women are affected by this disorder and the healthcare cost of osteoporosis in the U.S. is over 14 billion dollars annually and growing with the aging population. The DEXA (dual energy x-ray absorptiometry) scan is considered the best screening method to detect low bone mass. It is a non-invasive and painless test. We encourage this test in our patients who we consider at risk for osteoporosis.

We also offer a screening tool known as the Sahara bone density due to its simplicity and affordability. Our staff technologists are certified in bone densitometry with the International Society for Clinical Densitometry. Please speak to one of our physicians or midlevel providers about risk factors and prevention of osteoporosis.

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a systemic skeletal disease where there is deterioration of the bone tissue with a resultant increase in fragility of the bone. This leads to an increased risk of fractures, especially in the hip, spine and wrist.

About 13 to 18% of U.S. women age 50 years or older have osteoporosis while another 37 to 50% have low bone mass. Although hip fracture has been emphasized as a source of significant morbidity and mortality in the population, spine fractures can account for problems with pain, changes in appearance and loss of independence. It can even have an effect on cardiovascular, lung and digestive function.

The good news is osteoporosis is a largely preventable complication of menopause. Appropriate screening and pharmacologic interventions are now available to treat osteoporosis. Initial screening, which is available in our office, often provides information that leads to treatment. The most common method for screening is a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry, the technical standard for measuring bone mineral density.

Most of the large random controlled clinical studies have used this to determine therapeutic regimens for treating and preventing osteoporosis. It is preferred for evaluation over any other method because it measures bone density at the important sites of osteoporosis fracture in the hip and spine. It is relatively inexpensive and has a very modest radiation exposure.

Osteoporosis screening is recommended for all postmenopausal women ages 65 or older. It is also recommended in postmenopausal women younger than 65 who have one or more risk factors for osteoporosis.

Risk factors for osteoporosis in postmenopausal women include:

  • History of previous fracture.
  • Family history of osteoporosis.
  • Caucasian race.
  • Dementia.
  • Poor nutrition.
  • Smoking.
  • Low weight and body mass index.
  • Estrogen deficiency.
  • Long term low calcium intake.
  • Alcoholism.
  • Impaired eyesite despite adequate correction.
  • History of falls.
  • Inadequate physical activity.

Women First is pleased to be able to offer osteoporosis screening and counseling regarding therapies for osteoporosis in our office.

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