Bone density

Bone density, or bone mineral density (BMD), is the amount of bone mineral in bone tissue. The concept is of mass of mineral per volume of bone (relating to density in the physics sense), although clinically it is measured by proxy according to optical density per square centimetre of bone surface upon imaging. Bone density measurement is used in clinical medicine as an indirect indicator of osteoporosis and fracture risk. It is measured by a procedure called densitometry, often performed in the radiology or nuclear medicine departments of hospitals or clinics. The measurement is painless and non-invasive and involves low radiation exposure. Measurements are most commonly made over the lumbar spine and over the upper part of the hip. The forearm may be scanned if the hip and lumbar spine are not accessible.

There is a statistical association between poor bone density and higher probability of fracture. Fractures of the legs and pelvis due to falls are a significant public health problem, especially in elderly women, leading to much medical cost, inability to live independently and even risk of death. Bone density measurements are used to screen people for osteoporosis risk and to identify those who might benefit from measures to improve bone strength.

Bone density tests are not necessary for people without risk factors for weak bones. Unnecessary testing is more likely to result in superfluous treatment rather than discovery of a true problem.

The following are risk factors for low bone density and primary considerations for the need for a bone density test.

Other considerations that are related to risk of low bone density and the need for a test include smoking habits, drinking habits, the long-term use of corticosteroid drugs, and a vitamin D deficiency.

For those people who do have bone density tests, two conditions which may be detected are osteoporosis and osteopenia. The usual response to either of these indications is consultation with a physician.

This page was last edited on 1 June 2018, at 17:59.
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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