New Views on Frequency of Osteoporosis Screening

Study Shows a Longer Interval Between Bone Mineral Density Tests May Be OK for Low-Risk Women

WebMD—October 17, 2010

Women aged 65 and older are advised to undergo bone mineral density (BMD) screening every two years, but those with normal results at age 67 may be able to wait 10 years before their next screening test, a new study suggests.

Researchers say the 10-year interval is OK because the women’s risk of developing the brittle bone disease osteoporosis in that time is low.

The new findings were slated to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Bone Mineral Research in Toronto.

Sabrina Strickland, M.D., an assistant attending orthopaedic surgeon at the Women's Sports Medicine Center at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, agrees. The timing and spacing of bone mineral density tests "depend on when they hit menopause because you lose so much bone mass during menopause."

"If a woman has a late menopause, she may still be in a heavy bone loss state and needs testing at closer intervals," she says. "If somebody who hit menopause at 50, and their bone mineral density is normal at 67, it's probably fine to repeat the test in 10 years. If they hit menopause later, they may still be in active bone loss period."

Other game changers such as family history of osteoporosis, low body weight, and/or diagnosis of a disease that requires the use of bone-depleting steroids also play a role in screening decisions.

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