Osteoporosis Screening

Topic Overview

If you or your doctor thinks you may be at risk for osteoporosis, you may have a screening test to check your bone thickness. A screening test may be advisable if you have:

  • A fracture in a minor injury that may have been caused by osteoporosis.
  • Another medical condition that is known to cause bone thinning.
  • Risk factors for, or symptoms that suggest, osteoporosis.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that all women age 65 and older routinely have a bone density test to test for osteoporosis. If you are at increased risk for broken bones caused by osteoporosis, routine testing should start sooner.1 USPSTF recommends that you and your doctor check your fracture risk using a tool such as FRAX to help decide whether you should be screened for osteoporosis. Talk to your doctor about your risk factors and when to start bone density screening.

The FRAX tool was developed by the World Health Organization to help predict your risk of having a fracture related to osteoporosis in the next 10 years. You can use this tool. Go to the website at www.sheffield.ac.uk/FRAX, and click on Calculation Tool. If you have had a bone density test on your hip, you can type in your score. If you have not had that test, you can leave the score blank.

Most experts recommend that the decision to test younger women be made on an individual basis, depending on the risk of osteoporosis and whether the test results will help with treatment decisions. To help you decide whether you should be tested for osteoporosis, see:

Click here to view a Decision Point.Osteoporosis: Should I Have a Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DXA) Test?

Experts suggest that older men talk to their doctors about osteoporosis and have bone density tests if they are at risk.2

For more information, see the topic Osteoporosis.

References

Citations

  1. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2011). Screening for Osteoporosis: Recommendation Statement. Available online: http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf10/osteoporosis/osteors.htm.
  2. Qaseem A, et al. (2008). Screening for osteoporosis in men: A clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians. Annals of Internal Medicine, 148(9): 680–684. Also available online: http://www.acponline.org/clinical_information/guidelines/guidelines.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Carla J. Herman, MD, MPH - Geriatric Medicine
Last Revised November 6, 2012

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