How often are osteoporosis evaluations performed?
Is it annual like a mammogram? What kind of scan is it?
Osteoporosis is a large problem for many women, and it is becoming an epidemic in the United States and other parts of the world. Bone density decreases with age in all people, but especially in women who are post-menopausal. While there is no universally accepted protocol for screening and follow up, it is appropriate to have a first screening near the time of menopause, or even sooner for certain high risk women (such as those with a prominent family history, history of glucocorticoid use, or other common conditions). After this initial evaluation, the data is even more murky about what is best for follow up. In those who are at high risk after the first evaluation, regular repeated scans every two years may be appropriate. For others without risk factors and with healthy bones at the first evaluation, waiting for 3 to 5 years might be ok. Your primary care doctor will be able to recommend an appropriate and individualized schedule for you, or refer you to the appropriate specialist as you need. The scan itself is somewhat similar to an x-ray, although the scoring system that is used to determine your bone health is somewhat more complicated. Please speak to your doctor about your questions.
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