OCH Service Helps in
Osteoporosis affects approximately 20-25 million women, including 50 percent of women over the age of 45 and 90 percent of those older than 75. It leads to more than a million hip, wrist and vertebrae fractures and 50,000 deaths each year. A test available at Oktibbeha County Hospital which measures bone density is helping women beat these statistics.
The test, which is based on a technology called Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA), measures the bone mineral content and density of specific bones sites that are most susceptible to fracture due to osteoporosis and other degenerative bone diseases. Located in the OCH Radiology Department, it is a simple, painless procedure that takes only a few minutes. According to OCH Director of Radiology, Glynn Stone, during the test, which is non-invasive and requires no injections, a woman lies fully clothed on a padded treatment table while the machine scans one or more areas of bone. And, even though the machine emits X-rays, the radiation dose is actually less than the radiation exposure during a coast-to-coast airline flight.
"The prevalence of osteoporosis and other degenerative bone diseases, especially in post-menopausal women, makes bone densitometry a vital part of a complete bone healthy program for women," OCH Staff Radiologist Michael Buehler, MD, said. "All women over age 50 or past menopause should talk to their doctors about their risk of developing osteoporosis. Statistics released by the National Osteoporosis Foundation are quite impressive: One out of every two women past menopause will develop the disease and one out of three will experience a fracture."
"In fact, a women's risk of hip fracture alone equals her combined risk of developing breast, uterine or ovarian cancer. And, 20 percent of hip fracture victims die within the first year following the fracture."
He explained that the most common examination sites for bone densitometry scans are the hip, spine, and sometimes the forearm. The evaluation also includes measurements of height and weight, a thorough history and risk assessment. "The DXA machine calculates a patient's bone mineral density (BMD) and compares it to normal BMD values, matched for age and sex. This allows us to confirm or exclude a diagnosis of low bone mass, which helps determine an appropriate treatment plan," Dr. Buehler said. He noted that this information is not only helpful for diagnosing low BMD, but also for monitoring a patient's response to therapy. "By performing a bone densitometry scan a few months into a patient's treatment regimen, we can assess whether or not she has gained or continued to lose bone mass and make any necessary adjustments to her therapy," he said.
Bone densitometry can play a vital role in the process of effectively managing osteoporosis, according to Dr. Buehler. However, women must do their part to prevent development of the disease. "Dietary and lifestyle changes can help prevent or lessen osteoporosis, and medications are now available that have been shown to actually reverse the bone-loss process," he said. "Osteoporosis is preventable and treatable. Women need to take the appropriate steps to assure their independence and quality of life," he said.
For more information about osteoporosis or bone densitometry, see your personal physician; DXA scans must be ordered and scheduled by patients' physicians.