Articles Good Health

Worried About Osteoporosis?

A 15-Minute Scan Can Put Your Mind at Ease (And you take the test fully dressed)

By Jeannie Benson | Contributor

People tend to think of bones as unchanging, but the truth is that bones are in constant flux. Even as you read this sentence, specialized cells in your body are busy destroying old bits of bone and replacing them with new bone. Unfortunately, as people age, they often lose bone more quickly than they can replace it; so their bones can become porous and brittle.

If left unchecked, this bone loss can lead to osteoporosis –  where bones become abnormally thin, weakened, and easily broken.

Unfortunately, people are usually unaware they have the condition until they break a bone unexpectedly. That’s where bone density tests come in.

Outpatient facilities like Envision Imaging offer a Bone Mineral Density Scan (DEXA) which takes about 15 minutes.  The DEXA scan provides you and your physician a fracture assessment report which can alert you to problems before you have a fracture and will indicate if you should receive treatment for osteoporosis.  Treatment includes osteoporosis medications, as well as diet and lifestyle changes to prevent further bone loss.

The DEXA scan is strongly recommended if you

• are a post-menopausal woman and not taking estrogen.

• are a post-menopausal woman who is over 5 feet 7 inches or less than 125 pounds.

• use medications that are known to cause bone loss, including corticosteroids (Prednisone), various anti-seizure medications (Dilantin), certain barbiturates, or high-dose thyroid replacement drugs.

• have type 1 diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, a personal or maternal history of hip fracture or smoking, or a family history of osteoporosis.

• have high bone turnover, determined from a urine sample.

• have an endocrine disorder such as hyperthyroidism or hyperparathyroidism.

• have had x-ray evidence of vertebral fracture or experienced a fracture after only mild trauma

• are over the age of 65 for a woman or 70 for a man

How is a bone density test done?

You will lie on your back on a padded table wearing your street clothes or a patient gown. The machine does all the work!. It is very open and does not feel “closed in.” You will not be given any injections or medications for this test.

Where and how often should a bone density test be done?

Bone density tests are available at many outpatient imaging facilities such as Envision Imaging Centers.  A bone density test is usually done every two years unless otherwise recommended by your physician.

More information about the DEXA scan and Envision Imaging can be found at www.envrad.com.

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