Bone densitometry has become the gold standard for measuring the density of your bones. Quantitative Computed Tomography (QCT) bone densitometry is the test for evaluation of osteoporosis. The results of your exam are compared to others whose age, sex and ethnic background are similar to yours. The measurement of bone minerals is very closely related to bone strength and your potential for bone fractures. As men and women age, along with many other health issues, their risk factors for osteoporosis increase.
What is bone densitometry?
QCT bone densitometry is a low-dose computed tomogram study that checks for signs of mineral loss and bone thinning. The hip and spine are measured. A bone density exam delivers approximately 60 percent of the radiation that occurs during an ordinary chest x-ray. It is a simple, painless and non-invasive procedure which takes approximately 15 minutes.
Osteoporosis is the most common type of bone disease. There are currently an estimated 10 million Americans suffering from osteoporosis as well as another 18 million who have decreased bone mass or osteopenia.
Osteoporosis occurs when the body fails to form enough new bone or when too much existing bone is lost by the body. It is a condition characterized by progressive loss of bone density and strength, resulting in an increased tendency to fracture. Calcium and phosphates are two minerals, along with Vitamin D, that are essential for normal bone formation. Throughout youth, your body uses these minerals to produce strong bones. If calcium intake is not sufficient or if the body does not absorb enough calcium from your diet, bone production suffers and the bone thins.
As people age, calcium and phosphate may be reabsorbed back into the body from the bones, which makes the bones weaker. Inadequate calcium and phosphate intake and reabsorption can cause fragile, brittle bones that are subject to fractures. The loss of bone density usually occurs gradually over a period of years. Often, a person will actually suffer a fracture before they are aware that they have osteoporosis. By the time this occurs, the disease is in more advanced stages. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that all women at the age of 65 have a bone density scan. Women are more often affected by osteoporosis than men because their bones are smaller, but it can occur in men. Just as the most common risk factor for women is decrease in estrogen at menopause, the most common risk factor for men is a drop in testosterone from the aging process. By the age of 65, both men and women tend to lose bone mass at the same rate.
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