s03a.jpg (12063 bytes)Although the continuing publicity about osteoporosis has caught the attention of women with risk factors and they increasingly are requesting bone density testing, bone densitometry still has work to do in garnering the attention of primary-care physicians and the rest of the at-risk population. The challenge of continuing to educate both the medical community and the public about the technology’s usefulness in the treatment of metabolic bone disease remains foremost in vendors’ minds: They are focused on making the technology a pervasive force in preventive medicine.

While the technology ranging from dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) to peripheral ultrasound progresses, the accompanying education has lagged behind. Primary-care physicians need to recognize the importance of screening, understand that osteoporosis is a disease that can be prevented and become adept at interpreting bone-quality data the technologies provide. Physicians and patients alike need to recognize that bone densitometry also assists doctors in fracture risk assessment and in monitoring patients’ response to bone-related therapy.

The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF of Washington, D.C.) estimates that 44 million people aged 50 and older are at risk for osteoporosis or low bone mass. Osteoporosis — more than a disease found in aging women — is considered to be a major health threat, currently afflicting more than 10 million people. Of those people with the disease, approximately 20 to 25 percent are men. Men at risk include those undergoing hormone therapy for prostate cancer, receiving chemotherapy or who are over the age of 70.

Please refer to the May 2002 issue for the complete story. For information on article reprints, contact Martin St. Denis