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Screening for low bone mineral density cuts incidence of fractures and increases the use of osteoporosis medication, new research concludes.

The researchers said the results showed screening meno-pausal women for low BMD had long-term clinical benefits, but that more research on cost-effectiveness was needed.

Women who were screened reported a 25 per cent fall in fractures after adjusting for age, weight and height.

Patients who had a DEXA scan were also more likely to take osteoporosis medication, with 37 per cent reporting current or past use of vitamin D, calcium, alendronate, etidron-ate or raloxifene, compared with 22 per cent of controls.

Similarly, 52 per cent of women who were screened reported taking HRT, compared with 45 per cent of those who were not screened.

Study researcher Dr Alison Stewart, a research fellow at the department of medicines and therapeutics at the University of Aberdeen, said: ‘We found screening is effective but what we need to do now is a cost-effectiveness analysis to see whether the number of fractures you would save and the number of days in hospital, against the cost of screening, is cost-


The researchers chose a random sample of 4,800 women aged 45-54 around Aberdeen in 1993, and randomised patients to DEXA scans or no screening. They followed up with a questionnaire nine years later.

The research was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research in Nashville.

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