How Often Should You Have a DXA Scan: New DXA Scan Recommendations

Pam Flores Health Guide January 27, 2012
  • If you've read the recent recommendations from the January 22 edition of Life and Style from HealthyRockford.com, or the article in the New York Times, they tell us that we don't need to have bone density testing as often as some of us have been doing.  But before you decide to hold off on your ...

11 Comments
  • Merely Me
    Health Guide
    Jan. 28, 2012

    Hey Pam

     

    I think my sister just had this type of test and she is in her fifties. 

     

    At what age do the experts say to begin such testing and particularly if you have a genetic risk? 

     

    It does seem that there is this push nowadays to not have these regular screenings...including having less frequent pap smears or mammograms. ...

    RHMLucky777

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    Hey Pam

     

    I think my sister just had this type of test and she is in her fifties. 

     

    At what age do the experts say to begin such testing and particularly if you have a genetic risk? 

     

    It does seem that there is this push nowadays to not have these regular screenings...including having less frequent pap smears or mammograms.  It just seems strange...we want to focus on preventive health and we are getting such mixed messages from the medical establishment.  Who should we listen to?

     

    Thanks so much for sharing this vital information with us.  As always...you are right on top of the latest news and research.

     

    MM

  • Kurt Reply
    Feb. 24, 2012

    In the infinite wisdom that is our USA government, and an effort to fund Obamacare with cuts in Medicare, the reimbursement for a DXA scan by medicare is going from $95 to $55 beginning March 1.  It was $138 in 2005.  In a recent cost analysis by the Lewin group, often used by government agencies for data, the average cost of providing a DXA scan...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    In the infinite wisdom that is our USA government, and an effort to fund Obamacare with cuts in Medicare, the reimbursement for a DXA scan by medicare is going from $95 to $55 beginning March 1.  It was $138 in 2005.  In a recent cost analysis by the Lewin group, often used by government agencies for data, the average cost of providing a DXA scan at the average outpatient facility or doctors office, is about $135.  Doctor offices are being asked to lose money on every DXA scan they perform.  Most I fear, will simply retire their DXA machines, or be tempted to use less qualified individuals to run them, or skimp on maintenance of the equipment causing false or inaccurate readings and lowered patient care.

    Welcome to socialized medicine.

  • Lene  Andersen
    Health Guide
    Jan. 31, 2012

    thanks so much for putting this into context, Pam! Thanks to my conversations with you and from reading your post, I have moved getting a bone density scan to the top of my list for getting healthy in 2012.

    • Pam Flores
      Health Guide
      Jan. 31, 2012

      Oh Lene, I'm glad you've made your decision!  I'm glad the information helped as well.  Please keep us posted on what you find out, provided you don't mind letting us know.

       

      Good luck with your scan Smile

  • Pam Flores
    Health Guide
    Jan. 29, 2012

    Hi Merely Me, thanks for popping over!  You asked about when to have your first scan.  According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation they recommend the following.


    NOF recommends that you have a bone density test if:

     

    -you are a woman age 65 or older
    -you are a man age 70 or older
    -you break a bone after age 50
    -you are a woman of menopausal...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    Hi Merely Me, thanks for popping over!  You asked about when to have your first scan.  According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation they recommend the following.


    NOF recommends that you have a bone density test if:

     

    -you are a woman age 65 or older
    -you are a man age 70 or older
    -you break a bone after age 50
    -you are a woman of menopausal age with risk factors
    -you are a postmenopausal woman under age 65 with risk factors
    -you are a man age 50-69 with risk factors

     

    A bone density test may also be necessary if you have any of the following:

     

    -an X-ray of your spine showing a break or bone loss in your spine
    -back pain with a possible break in your spine
    -height loss of ½ inch or more within one year
    -total height loss of 1½ inches from your original height (NOF: Having a Bone Density Scan, 2012)

     

    According to this most recent recommendation, if you have normal bone density (score better than -1.0) you can wait 15 years, but I don't believe the NOF is in agreement with this NEJM rec.  Having a baseline scan is important if you have genetic factors for bone loss, and all the above risk factors.  Secondary causes for bone loss are also a reason to have a scan early.  There are also medication causes for bone loss as well that are important to consider since they can cause you to lose bone fast, like prednisone (the number one medication cause) and many others, so when you have time check the above links for the full list.

     

    My feeling, since there are so many in their teens, 20s, 30s and 40s who have bone loss, is to have the scan if your insurance will pay for it.  If they don't pay for this, the scan isn't that expensive when you compare it to things like x-rays, CT scans and MRIs.  Better safe than sorry is my advice and have the scan, that way you'll be ahead of the game and can start early to reverse it.  So many wish they had done this early rather than wait for the problem to already exist, so it's up to you really.  I'm one who doesn't pay a lot of attention to these on-going recommendations.  I follow my gut and my Dr.'s advice and leave the official recommendations for those who are interested in them.

     

    Thanks again and take care!

     

    Pam

     

    • Merely Me
      Health Guide
      Jan. 31, 2012

      Hey there

       

      You are so good to me!  Thank you for all this great information Pam.  I really need to print out many of your articles and this answer so I can have them at the ready.  I think there is a myth that bone loss only happens at a certain age.  You have been telling us all along that this is not so.  I am listening!

       ...

      RHMLucky777

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      Hey there

       

      You are so good to me!  Thank you for all this great information Pam.  I really need to print out many of your articles and this answer so I can have them at the ready.  I think there is a myth that bone loss only happens at a certain age.  You have been telling us all along that this is not so.  I am listening!

       

      I will ask my doctor about this test and see what he says. 

       

      And when I have the chance I want to write about how my sister is doing after her diagnosis.

       

      A HUGE thank you. 

       

      MM

    • Pam Flores
      Health Guide
      Jan. 31, 2012

      Hi you're very welcome, and if you need any help with your sisters' situation just ask!  Maybe your sister would like to write a Sharepost or ask a question on the Q&A.  If so, we'd love that!

       

      I also hope her bone loss isn't too bad.  Here's the break down on t-scores, if she needs it and I suppose I may have already given it to you. ...

      RHMLucky777

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      Hi you're very welcome, and if you need any help with your sisters' situation just ask!  Maybe your sister would like to write a Sharepost or ask a question on the Q&A.  If so, we'd love that!

       

      I also hope her bone loss isn't too bad.  Here's the break down on t-scores, if she needs it and I suppose I may have already given it to you.  Just in case here it is.  It also appears at the bottom of the dxa scan report.  Be sure she gets a copy of this for her records and to keep track of how she's doing and what her baseline score was.

       

      World Health Org. on T-scores:

       

      Normal bone:  Any score better than -1.0 (ex: -1.0, -.95, -54 etc)

      Osteopenia:  Any score between -1.0 and -2.5 (osteopenia is not a disease just the precusor to osteoporosis meaning she has less bone than normal for her age)

      Osteoporosis:  Any score below -2.5

       

      Severe Osteoporosis: Any score below -2.5 with a spontaneous fracture; caused by little motion (coughing, sneezing, stepping down/up on stairs, etc.,)

       

      With all you mentioned about your sister to me, give yourself a pat on the back for me for being such a loyal and helpful Sis!Innocent

       

      Take Care

    • Pam Flores
      Health Guide
      Jan. 31, 2012

      MM, I forgot to mention if you want to write for your sister that's great too and I'm sure the members will get great help from your family experience.

  • nathji
    Jan. 28, 2012

    Dear Pam!

     

    Though all your posts excell each other, this one about how often to get the DXA scans is the most important. We only have our doctor's word for it and mutely accept it, but your post gives us something to think about. This question plagues all our minds -- will something drastic happen to us if we dont get a DXA scan? On the other hand will...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    Dear Pam!

     

    Though all your posts excell each other, this one about how often to get the DXA scans is the most important. We only have our doctor's word for it and mutely accept it, but your post gives us something to think about. This question plagues all our minds -- will something drastic happen to us if we dont get a DXA scan? On the other hand will frequent DXA scans only lead to a radiation exposure that may accummulate over a period of time and be harmful? Even though a single dose is said to be harnless. And then again the question arises - what if we have to go from one town to another, one machine to another -- and invariably the results vary causing confusion. I used to get the DXA scans in Delhi but then the machine shut down and the clinic closed, so I had to go to another. It is worse when we have to rely on the shoddy machines they have here in the small city of Dehra Dun about 22 miles down in the plains from where I live in the Himalayas.

     

    I wish Pam you would do some reserach on some BLOOD TEST which will tell us of the picture of  bone health without going into specifics. Maybe some ultra sound which will easily reach any area of the body without the hassle of a radiation exposure! I am sure you will come up with something!

     

    In the meanwhile thanks for this illuminating post. We will know better than most doctors now, worldwide!

     

     

    Yours, with regards,

    Priya

    • Pam Flores
      Health Guide
      Jan. 29, 2012

      Hi Priya!  So glad you liked the article!  You asked about other tests that you could have...There are bone marker tests that are blood tests, however they aren't a substitute for a dxa.  They will tell you how you are doing as far as how much bone you are losing or gaining.  Do they have these tests there?  See the links I included...

      RHMLucky777

      Read More

      Hi Priya!  So glad you liked the article!  You asked about other tests that you could have...There are bone marker tests that are blood tests, however they aren't a substitute for a dxa.  They will tell you how you are doing as far as how much bone you are losing or gaining.  Do they have these tests there?  See the links I included for an explanation on these tests.

       

      There are also ultra-sound scans, but as you know, they are only for pre-screening of bone and no one will actually take your score from these and use them as a diagnosis.

       

      If any thing new comes out, to measure bone, you'll be the first to know! 

       

      I hope all is well where you live and you're doing fine.  Any new issues with your bmd or health? 

       

      Thanks so much for stopping by!  I'll never be able to thank you enough for your loyalty, you are a true friend. Smile

       

      Take Care,

       

      Pam