Osteoporosis is a common disease for women over age 50. Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by increasing bone loss, which can lead to broken bones, loss of height and a hump-backed appearance.
The most serious risk for people with osteoporosis is a hip fracture following a fall. But osteoporotic bones are so weak that it doesn’t always require a fall to cause injury. Simple, everyday activities can result in a fracture. Spinal compression fractures are the most common osteoporosis- related injury and can be triggered simply by bending over.
Bone loss begins immediately when your periods stop and can happen even faster in women who are thin, have a family history of bone loss or who smoke cigarettes. One of every two women over age 65 will suffer at least one bone fracture due to osteoporosis. For this reason, we begin DEXA bone testing to look for osteoporosis in all of our patients who are over the age of 50.
A bone densitometry scan, also known as a bone density or DEXA scan, is a noninvasive procedure used to determine the extent of bone loss. The results can help assess a patient's risk of osteoporosis by measuring bone mineral density.
A DEXA scan is a simple procedure with no major risks and no need for anesthesia. Only a very small amount of radiation is used during this procedure, which will not affect the patient over a series of exams. After the risk of osteoporosis and related fractures is determined, patients can take certain precautions to reduce their risk of fracture and keep bones as strong and healthy as possible.
Reasons for a Bone Densitometry Scan
A bone densitometry scan is most commonly performed on the lower spine and hips, allowing patients to take preventive measures against osteoporosis before they experience a broken bone. When used over time, a DEXA scan can detect even the smallest gain or loss in bone density to help detect or diagnose osteoporosis.
Bone densitometry is considered the most accurate diagnostic test for osteoporosis and can help determine a patient's risk of fracture.
The Bone Densitometry Procedure
No special preparation is required for the bone densitometry procedure. Depending on the size of the targeted area, the procedure may last from 10 to 30 minutes. During the procedure, the patient lies on a padded table with an X-ray generator below and an imaging device above. The targeted area is positioned in order to achieve ideal results, before the imaging device is passed over the area to produce images that appear on a computer monitor. Using DEXA technology, the imaging device sends low-dose beams with two energy peaks that examine soft tissue and bone. The soft tissue results are then subtracted from the total to determine the patient's bone mineral density.
The results of a bone densitometry scan are visible after just a few minutes and can be discussed with the patient then or analyzed at a later date. There is no pain associated with this procedure, and patients are able to return home and resume their regular activities immediately. There are no major complications or side effects associated with the bone densitometry procedure.
Treatment for Osteoporosis
Dr. Rehder and her staff have developed a special interest in preventing and treating osteoporosis. They can help you choose from many types of treatment including the following: calcium supplements, prescription vitamin D, weight bearing exercise including physical therapy, oral medications, IV medication in the office and daily subcutaneous injection. Due to the large number of treatments available, we can help you determine the best treatment plan for your needs even if you are currently on other medications, prefer to avoid prescription medications or have a sensitive stomach.