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Osteoporosis and Bone Density Tests

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Are Bone Density Tests Used to Monitor Osteoporosis Treatment?

The American Medical Association and some other reputable medical organizations have determined that repeat bone density testing (DXA scans) is not necessary to monitor osteoporosis treatment in the first three years of treatment or in prevention on a routine basis. Bone density changes so slowly with treatment that the changes may be smaller than the measurement error of the machine. They feel that repeat DXA scans cannot distinguish between a real increase in bone density due to treatment or a mere variation in measurement from the machine itself.

Several other organizations like the National Osteoporosis Foundation, however, still support repeat testing at 1 or 2 year intervals during treatment. Ask your health care provider what is right for you.

In practice, most providers do repeat the test in 2 years after the initial test. This is done to identify people who do not respond the medication.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on April 16, 2015
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