How Osteoporosis Screening Works



Osteoporosis, if not found early through screening, so it can be halted or even reversed, can lead to broken bones, especially in the hip, spine and forearms. These broken bones can be painful while healing and even disabling, particularly in the elderly, in whom osteoporosis is most common. Osteoporosis screening works to diagnose low bone density, but how does it work and what do the results mean?

Osteoporosis Pre-Screening

There are several tests that are easier and cheaper to conduct. These osteoporosis screening tests can tell your doctor if you need to go through additional bone density tests to either rule out or confirm osteopenia or osteoporosis. The pre-screenings are usually one of three:peripheral dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (pDXA); quantitative ultrasound (QUS); peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT).

How a DXA Machine Works

If any of the pre-screenings indicate you need additional tests, or if you are sent directly for a fullosteoporosis screening, you will most likely encounter a DXA machine. The machine works in just 10-15 minutes and is completely painless. You can stay completely clothed as long as there are no buttons, zippers, or anything else that will obstruct the views of the scanned images when read by the radiologist. The machine works much like a typical x-ray machine but is meant to specifically scan for the density of the hip and spine, where most fractures occur in those with low bone density.

Who Should Get Osteoporosis Screening

For women, those over the age of 65 should undergo osteoporosis screening. For men, it is recommended at the age of 70. If you have broken a bone in the typical places that are found with osteopenia or osteoporosis, such as a hip, osteoporosis screening is recommended at age 50 and older. It should also be performed if you have risk factors and are over 50. Once screened, you should have it repeated every one to two years.

Osteopenia vs. Osteoporosis

Osteopenia is low bone density but not severe enough to be considered osteoporosis. Both can be diagnosed through osteoporosis screening, so it is important to have your primary care physician give you the referral for this screening if you are the right age for it, have risk factors or they suspect it may be necessary.

Your T-Scores

The radiologist, after viewing the scans from your osteoporosis screening, will give you a T-score. This T-score is what will determine your diagnosis. If your score is between -1 and +0.5, your bone density is considered normal. You will be diagnosed with osteopenia if the T-score is between -1 and -2.5. Anything under -2.5 will result in a diagnosis of osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis screening can give both you and your doctor a better picture of the health of your bones as well as create a treatment plan, if necessary. If you need an osteoporosis screening and are in the area of Magnolia, Texas, choose Internal Medicine Diagnostic Center for your screening.