July 1, 2004
Q&A on Bone Density Test
Now that I am in menopause, I am considering
getting a bone mineral density test. However, I am very confused
about how often I should repeat the test. Can you suggest any guidelines?
I am so glad that you asked me this very important
question, since periodic bone mineral density testing is so crucial
for the early detection of osteoporosis. I am particularly attuned
to this issue since I have seen so many women in my practice with
low bone density and even osteoporosis, who are only in their late
40s or 50s.
I strongly recommend that all women get a baseline
test done during perimenopause, or at the very latest during the
first year after menstruation has ceased, since women tend to lose
one to three percent of their bone mass every year during the first
five to ten years after entering menopause. If you have no family
history of osteoporosis, and baseline testing shows that you have
strong, dense bones that are within the normal range, then repeat
testing can be done in three years.
However, if you are diagnosed with low bone density
or osteoporosis, then retesting should be done much more frequently.
Given the dangers of developing an osteoporosis-related fracture
later on in life, I strongly believe that high risk women should
be treated aggressively, and that retesting of their bone mineral
density should be done once a year until their bone mass is restored
to normal. At that point, testing can be done every other year.
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