Dr. Richard Nahas Examines the Importance of Checking for Bone Densitometry Regularly
According to Dr. Richard Nahas, bones, like any other part of your body, are constantly changing. Old bits of your bones are being destroyed and replaced by new bones as you’re reading this sentence. With old age, people lose bone more quickly than it can be replaced and that’s why bone densitometry checks are important. Let’s dive deeper.
- The reason for bone density tests – Doctors use bone density tests to identify a reduction in bone density and determine your risk of bone fracture and other such problems. Think of it as an osteoporosis check. Don’t take osteoporosis lightly since it leads to over half a million fractures of the vertebrae, 300,000 hip fractures and 400,000 wrist fractures each year.
Bone density tests help early diagnosis of osteoporosis and develop a treatment plan for it. During these tests, the mineral content of your bones is checked. Higher mineral content means you have strong bones. Your bone density tests result in two numbers: T-score and Z-score. A T-score of -1 and above is considered normal, while a score of -2.5 and below indicates you have osteoporosis. On the other hand, a higher or lower than average Z-score means you need more tests to determine the cause of the problem.
- Who needs bone density tests? – While you should get a bone density test every year, your doctor may recommend a bone density test if you have:
- Been diagnosed with certain drugs. Long-term use of steroids interferes with the bone-rebuilding process and may lead to osteoporosis.
- Lost height. Usually, it happens due to osteoporosis lead compression fractures in the spine.
- Fractured a bone. If you have osteoporosis your bones become very fragile. Even a strong sneeze or cough can lead to fragility fractures.
- Drop in hormone levels. While there’s a drop in hormone levels naturally in your body after a certain age, some treatments for cancer may reduce testosterone and other sex hormones. Lowered sex hormones can weaken your bones.
- Different types of bone density tests – Primarily there are three types of bone-density tests: Ultrasonography, Quantitative computerized tomography and DXA(Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry) test. DXA is the most common, reliable and useful bone density test among the three since it provides precise measurements at vital bone sites including the forearm, hip and spine.
On the other hand, Quantitative computerized tomography is a kind of CT scan that provides accurate measurements of bone density in the spine. However, it isn’t easily recommended since it is expensive and delivers a higher radiation dose compared to DXA. Ultrasonography is usually reserved to check the bone density of the heel.
Dr. Richard Nahas suggests that you regularly do a bone-density test to diagnose problems early on and take steps to mitigate them for a healthier lifestyle in the future. Just add it to the regular yearly physical checkup. Irrespective of the type of bone density test you choose; you’re going to benefit from it.
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