Bone Density Screening
DXA Screening for Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a condition that reduces bone strength and puts individuals at greater risk of breaking or fracturing a bone. This condition most frequently affects women, as one in four women over the age of 65 will be diagnosed.
Symptoms of osteoporosis are virtually non-existent, which is why many individuals may not be aware or affected by it until they have already suffered a broken bone. For this reason, routine osteoporosis screenings performed by the providers at Western OB/GYN are incredibly important, especially for those with high-risk factors.
Osteoporosis Risk Factors
The following are influential factors that can increase a person’s likelihood to develop osteoporosis:
- Gender: Women are far more likely to be affected by osteoporosis than men. In general, women’s bones are smaller and are more vulnerable to degeneration due to hormonal changes that occur after menopause.
- Age: Bones naturally become thinner as we age. When women reach menopause, they may rapidly lose bone in the first four to eight years of menopause. For example, if a woman begins menopause at 50, the most dramatic loss of bone mass may occur between 51 and 58.
- Race: Due to differences in genetic make-up across all ethnicities, Caucasian and Asian women are more likely to be affected by osteoporosis than African-American or Hispanic women.
- Family history: Women with a family history of osteoporosis, or a family member that has suffered a hip fracture are at a significantly higher risk of developing osteoporosis during their lifetime.
- Smoking: Toxins found within cigarettes are incredibly harmful to bone health, and long-term exposure can lead to significant damage and bone loss.
DXA Screening for Osteoporosis
Bone density is measured using a unique diagnostic test called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, or what is commonly known as a DXA scan. This procedure measures the density of an individual’s bones in areas of the body that are prone to breaks and fractures, such as the spine, hips, and forearms.
DXA scans do not require any preparation. The patient will change into a dressing gown before being asked to lie on an examination table while X-rays are used to scan specific areas of the body. The process is painless and only takes about ten minutes to complete.
Interpreting DXA Results
In the majority of cases, the patient’s bone density will be compared to that of an average, healthy young adult. The results of this comparison is called a T-score, which will help your provider determine if the bone density is at a normal level, or if interventional treatment is necessary to prevent a future fracture. The following levels may be used to classify a person’s T-score:
- Normal T-score: Between +1 and -1
- Lower than average mass T-score: Between -1.1 and -2.4
- Osteoporosis: A score of -2.5 or less
How Often Should Scans be Performed?
Because of the need to expose patients to a limited dose of radiation in order to complete a DXA scan, it is recommended that these tests only be completed a maximum of once every two years. Even with high-risk patients receiving treatment, our providers will monitor bone health using other examinations between DXA scans.
Osteoporosis Treatment Options in Waconia, MN
The main goal of treatment will be to prevent fractures and breaks. In addition to recommending exercise as well as a proper diet that is rich in calcium, your provider may also prescribe supplemental medications. The following is not a list of all medication options, but simply those most frequently used:
- Bisphosphonates: This type of medication slows cell activity that is responsible for bone loss. Bisphosphonates are intended to maintain or even increase bone density.
- Parathyroid hormone: These kinds of hormone supplements are ideal for postmenopausal women who are at high risk for fractures.
- Estrogen agonists/antagonists: Typically used to treat postmenopausal women, these medications are not estrogen, but they have estrogen-like effects on the body. These effects can be very beneficial to replenish the body’s hormone levels that often drop off during the stages of menopause.
- Denosumab injection: This medication was designed specifically to treat those with bone loss, as it works to block certain receptors in the body that can lead to bone breakdown. This injection is helpful for those prone to fractures or individuals who have unusually high calcium levels in their blood that is not well maintained using other medications.
Request an Appointment
Osteoporosis is a condition that should not be taken lightly. A broken bone can result in hospitalization, surgery, and many long-term effects. If you have concerns regarding your bone density and would like to schedule an appointment, please call Western OB/GYN at (952) 442-2137 today.