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Some Women Can Go Longer Between Bone Checks: Study
Date:1/19/2012

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 18 (HealthDay News) -- New research suggests that older women who've had a normal result on a bone density scan -- a test that helps measure the strength of their bones -- may be able to wait as long as 15 years before getting another scan.

However, women who show any abnormal loss of bone generally need follow-up scans much sooner than that, the study authors noted.

"Women who had good T-scores, who were in the top category, had such stable bones. It took about 15 years for 10 percent of them to develop osteoporosis," said study author Dr. Margaret Gourlay, an assistant professor in the department of family medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"But, if you start off with thinner bones, it takes less time to develop osteoporosis," said Gourlay.

T-scores are a measure of bone health, where current bone scans are compared to the expected bone density of a healthy 30-year-old. Women with osteoporosis have a T-score of -2.5 or less, while those in the normal bone group have a T-score of -1.00 or higher.

Results of the study, which was funded by a grant from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, are published in the Jan. 19 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

There are clear guidelines advising most women have a bone mineral density test to measure the strength of her bones around age 65. Women who have a high risk of developing osteoporosis are advised to get their first bone scan even earlier. What hasn't been clear, however, is what the ideal time for follow-up scans should be.

"Medicare allows for repeat testing every two years, but if you have a normal bone density at 65, you don't necessarily need a repeat bone density scan every two years," said Dr. Stephen Honig, director of the osteoporosis center at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.

Gourlay said the current study was an a
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