Bone Density Testing – How Often Should It Be Done?

Not as often as you think, even though Medicare may be willing to pay for it every two years.

Now a new study led by Margaret L. Gourlay, MD, MPH of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine finds that women aged 67 years and older with normal bone mineral density scores may not need screening again for 10 years.

“If a woman’s bone density at age 67 is very good, then she doesn’t need to be re-screened in two years or three years, because we’re not likely to see much change,” Gourlay said. “Our study found it would take about 16 years for 10 percent of women in the highest bone density ranges to develop osteoporosis. That was longer than we expected, and it’s great news for this group of women,” Gourlay said. (Via Science News)

The researchers suggest that for T scores > -1.5, repeat testing needn’t be done for 10 years. Women with T scores between -1.5 and -2.0 can be re-screened in 5 years, and those with T scores below -2.0 can have every other year testing as is done now.

To be honest, I’ve been spacing out bone density testing in woman with good baseline scores for some time, but not knowing how long I can go. This is great information for me and for my patients.

Image from Wikimedia Commons

3 Responses to Bone Density Testing – How Often Should It Be Done?

  1. I’m wondering what the numbers are for women to have osteoporosis seriously affecting their lives, and the ages of those women? I guess I’m wondering how risks of osteoporosis compare to risks we hear lots more about, such as breast cancer? That would help me understand the information about tests and such. Thanks 🙂

  2. Actually, I have been doing the same thing for as long as 5 years. I figure if they’re in their seventies/20 years or so past menopause and have normal bone density they’re not likely to develop a problem unless (heaven forbid) they have to start steroids or something. For those of us in our 50’s with osteoporosis already it’s a different ball game.

  3. Thanks for the great info. My endocrinologist has me on annual Dexas because of Primary Hyperparathyroidism that was surgically cured 6 years ago. As of last year, one of my numbers dipped into borderline osteopenia,the others were normal, and she wanted my on the biphosphonates (I refused.) My PCP agrees with me, and I’ve been delaying my next visit/dexa.

    I’m glad I found your blog – I’m enjoying its many facets!

Leave a Reply