Twenty-five million Americans have osteoporosis. Fifty thousand people die each year because of it. Yet, most of us know little about protecting ourselves from this disease. Osteoporosis results in more than one million hip, spine and wrist fractures annually. This disorder affects nearly one-half of all postmenopausal women, the largest group at high risk for osteoporosis. Research in osteoporosis, the disorder in which progressive bone loss results in increased risk of fracture, is making important new advances.
A key factor in this success has been the availability of new and improved equipment to measure bone density. Using a bone densitometer, physicians can measure patient bone density and follow it over time. If the patient's bone density is low or decreases at an abnormally fast rate, the patient may be at risk for osteoporosis. Through changes in diet, exercise habits and/or medication, further deterioration of bone can be prevented. The bone densitometer measures the density of the spine, hip and other bones which are the most frequent sites of fracture. Prior to the bone densitometer, evaluating bone density using conventional x-ray systems did not reveal a potential problem until a patient had lost 25-30 percent of her bone density. Now, in just 30 seconds, this highly sensitive densitometer helps us identify risk at a much earlier stage. It can also evaluate response to treatment so that your physician knows whether your therapy is effective or if he needs to modify his approach.
Talk to your doctor to see if a bone density scan is appropriate for you. There is no special preparation involved, the exam is very brief and is a very comfortable procedure.