How important is bone density screening?
Scott Faulkner, MD, is an internal medicine specialist at Fort Morgan Internal Medicine, Fort Morgan, Colo.
Question: Is bone density a screening I should have?
Answer: A blood test tells you if you have high cholesterol. A mammogram tells you if you have breast cancer. You have no problem taking those tests. So why aren’t you having a bone density test to tell if you have osteoporosis?
Just like those and countless other diagnostic tests, bone densitometry is medical science’s gift to disease prevention. Bone density testing helps your doctor diagnose osteoporosis or to see if you’re at increased risk for a fracture. If your bone density is found to be low, you and your doctor can decide on treatment. Bone density measurements can also help monitor the effects of treatment.
Bone density tests are not the same as bone scans, which require an injection and are used to find cancer, infections and other bone diseases. A bone density test is an X-ray or CT scan of the bones. It is painless, noninvasive and easy.
Who needs bone density testing?
- Women age 65 or older.
- Men and women 60 and older who are at increased risk of osteoporosis.
- A postmenopausal woman who has recently fractured a bone.
- A postmenopausal woman with other risk factors for osteoporosis.