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Heel Ultrasound Helps Detect Fracture Risk
Date:6/24/2008

But expert says dual-energy X-rays still gold standard for measuring bone strength

TUESDAY, June 24 (HealthDay News) -- By combining the results of a heel ultrasound with known risk factors for osteoporotic fractures, Swiss researchers were better able to assess which women faced a greater risk of hip fracture.

According to the study of more than 6,000 women, which was published in the July issue of Radiology, 6.1 percent of women in the group identified as high risk went on to have a hip fracture, while just 1.8 percent of the women in the low-risk group did.

"The results [of our study] show that this predictive rule is not only effective at identifying high-risk patients who should receive further testing, but also may be helpful in identifying patients for whom further testing can be avoided," said study author Dr. Idris Guessous, a senior research fellow at Lausanne University Hospital in Switzerland.

"Osteoporosis is a major public health issue expected to increase in association with the worldwide aging of the population," he explained. "The incidence of osteoporosis will outpace economic resources, and the development of strategies to better identify women who need and women who do not need to be treated is crucial. One potential approach is the use of the prediction rule combining heel quantitative ultrasound and clinical risk factors."

However, at least one expert thinks ultrasound technology has a way to go before it can compare to the current gold standard of bone density testing -- dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA).

"This study could be useful; it could give options to populations that don't have access to the gold standard test, but at this point, there's nothing that's as good as the gold standard, DEXA," said Dr. Judi Chervenak, a menopause and bone health expert at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.

The current study included 9,174 Swiss women bet
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