What is Osteoporosis

January 4, 2011 Leave your thoughts

Osteoporosis is the cause of Fragility Fracture in over half of all women and a quarter of all men during their lifetimes.  The bad news is that serious Fragility Fractures such as Hip Fractures often lead to death or Nursing Home.  The good news is that we are learning better ways to prevent and treat osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a skeletal disorder characterized by compromised bone strength predisposing a person to an INCREASED RISK OF FRACTURE.  This is the 2001 definition from the National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Panel on Osteoporosis.

FRAX is the Fracture Risk Assessment calculator developed by the World Health Organization and the International Osteoporosis Foundation in 2009.  FRAX takes an individual person’s Osteoporosis Risk Factors to calculate when to treat with medicines.

Medicare treatment guidelines still rely on the old World Health Organization definition from the 1980s which was based solely on Bone Mineral Density as measured by DXA.  While the USA remains fixated on the old definition, most of the rest of the world is moving on.

Vertebral Fracture Assessment or VFA is based on viewing the spine from the side to detect Vertebral Compression Fractures.    This side view compliments DXA by detecting Vertebral Compression Fractures, which are an indication of poor bone quality and Osteoporosis.  Our DXA machine includes a supine lateral view of the spine for VFA.  We pick up an additional 20% of patients who have Osteoporosis and Increased Risk of Fracture.

Jay Ginther, MD                                              

2008 / Revised November 2010

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