Research: Advancing Methods of Assessing Bone Quality to Expand Screening for Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become weak and brittle. The body constantly absorbs and replaces bone tissue. Osteoporosis occurs when new bone creation doesn't keep up with old bone removal. Most people exhibit no symptoms until they have a bone fracture. Treatment includes medications, a healthy diet, and weight-bearing exercise. This helps prevent bone loss or strengthen already weak bones by treating the symptoms. The number of people living with osteoporosis is set to increase dramatically in the coming decades, due to aging populations and lifestyle changes. To diagnose osteoporosis and assess your risk of fracture, doctors typically rely on a bone density scan. This exam is used to measure bone mineral density (BMD). It is most commonly performed using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA or DEXA) or bone densitometry. An X-ray uses a type of electromagnetic radiation to create an image. The X-ray source sends a small amount of radiation through a body part and an image is produced as a result of how different internal structures absorb the radiation. The most common purpose of a DEXA scan is to assess whether a person's bones are weak and or at risk of fracture. The scan may indicate worsening or improving bone density. Researchers have found data from ultrasonography of the calcaneus (heel bone) was equal to data gathered using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA), which is considered the gold standard for assessing bone health. Ultrasound scanning uses a collection of sound waves with frequencies higher than the audible limit of human hearing. Ultrasound is not different from "normal" sound in its physical properties, except that humans cannot hear it. Ultrasound captures images of soft tissues that don't show up well on X-rays. Ultrasound could lead to increased and more accurate screenings for osteoporosis. The machine works by measuring how sound waves move through the bone. It is portable, inexpensive, and involves no radiation. A variety of machines are available in the United States, which has made it difficult to standardize data generated to the criterion standard data provided by DXA. Therefore, one aim was to establish a range of output from ultrasonography of the calcaneus in the United States to data from DXA scanning indicating good vs poor BMD.
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