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Bone Density Testing - The Gold Standard for Osteoporosis Diagnosis

Osteoporosis – The Silent Disease

Osteoporosis, also known as “brittle bone disease,” is a disease characterized by low bone strength, which makes bones weak and more likely to break (fracture).

Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the link between fractures and osteoporosis.  Statistics show that 50% of women over 50 will have a fracture resulting from osteoporosis.  More than 50 million Americans have low bone mass or osteoporosis; 80% of those numbers are women, while men, although less at risk for the disease, suffer more hip fractures than women.

Osteoporosis is the leading cause of fracture in our aging population.  Falling is the greatest risk for fracture but simple falls from a standing position resulting in fracture are indicative of weakness due to osteoporosis. Stress fractures and multiple fractures in an adult over 40 years of age are also indicative of osteoporosis.

If you have had a fracture, you should discuss your condition with all of your healthcare providers to determine if the fracture may be due to osteoporosis. 

Osteoporosis – The Risk Factors

Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than men. You are at greatest risk if you’re white or of Asian descent or have family history of osteoporosis or bone fractures.  Other risk factors include:

  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Personal history of rheumatoid arthritis or using steroids for a prolonged timeframe
  • Personal history of broken bones, especially in non-traumatic situations
  • Women aged 65 or older, especially white or Asian descent
  • Low body weight (less than 130 lbs) or small body frame
  • Long-term use of corticosteroid medications, such as prednisone and cortisone
  • Postmenopausal women under 65 with other risk factors
  • Postmenopausal women who discontinue hormone therapy or have thyroid problems
  • Women with early onset of menopause (before age 45)
  • Men aged 70 or older, or over 50 with other risk factors, especially African-American or Hispanic men
  • Lactose intolerant and/or avoid calcium in your diet.
  • Smoking cigarettes and cigars

Bone Density Testing - The Gold Standard for Osteoporosis Diagnosis

A Bone Density Test (DXA) can diagnose osteoporosis well before someone fractures.  In fact, DXA is the ‘Gold Standard’ used throughout the world to establish bone health status and to track changes in bone strength. 

Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometer (DXA) is a low dose X-ray instrument that precisely measures the strength, or density, of specific regions of the skeleton or the whole body.  The test is painless, takes less than 30 minutes and does not require undressing or fasting.

Bone density testing is performed with the patient lying on a comfortable, padded table.  A low energy x-ray beam is passed through the bones in the spine, hip or other skeletal site and measures, in a highly precise and reproducible manner, the calcium content of the bone of interest.  These bone mineral density (BMD) measurements determine the strength of bone and its risk for fracture and status: Normal, Low Bone Mass, or Osteoporosis.

Bone density results are usually expressed as 'T-scores.’  Typical young women have bone density T-score values between -2.0 and +2.0.  Postmenopausal women with values between -1 and -2.5 are said to have Low Bone Density.  Low bone density values do not necessarily mean that bone loss has occurred, but may be the result of a lower-than-average peak bone density, possibly due to genetic inheritance or other personal risk factors.  Values less than -2.5 are associated with an increased fracture risk, and at this level the diagnosis of Osteoporosis is made.

Bone Health Management

Successful bone health management requires a comprehensive treatment approach for each patient based on risk factors, lifestyle and bone density results.  We focus on patients of all ages at risk for low bone mass and osteoporosis. 

All of our DXA technologists are specially trained and the majority are certified in bone densitometry by the ISCD (International Society for Clinical Densitometry). These technologists work directly with an IBJI Rheumatologist to review, evaluate, and discuss results and treatment options.

IBJI Osteoporosis Centers use Hologic DXA Instruments capable of determining bone density in all skeletal sites, whole body and body composition analyses (i.e. distribution of fat, lean mass, bone and fat mass index) .  In addition, each instrument has the ability to perform Vertebral Fracture Analyses (VFA) during the DXA exam.  VFA allows for accurate determination of structural deformities within the spine in those patients presenting with significant height loss.

The DXA at our Morton Grove location can also provide imaging of potential atypical femur fractures (AFFs) that can occur as the result of long-term use of some medications.  

Our two north suburban DXA facilities are conveniently located and open daily Monday through Friday.  Please call us to schedule an appointment. 

Call Now to Get Your Bone Density Scan

Find the location nearest you or contact any office for a recommendation on the best physician for your needs. Whether you need evaluation and diagnosis, or simply want to explore your treatment options, IBJI bone and joint specialists will help you find the best treatment path for you.