Harvard Women's Health Watch

Bone mineral density testing: How often?

A study suggests that many older women don't need frequent testing.

Bone mineral density (BMD) testing assesses bone strength and is one of the most important factors considered in evaluating a woman's risk for an osteoporotic fracture. Current screening guidelines recommend BMD testing at the hip and spine with dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) for all women ages 65 and over — and earlier in women whose 10-year risk of fracture is 9.3% or greater. (You can calculate your 10-year fracture risk with the Fracture Risk Assessment Tool, or FRAX, at www.shef.ac.uk/FRAX. FRAX takes into account several risk factors in addition to BMD.) But until recently, there's been little scientific evidence on how often a woman should be screened.

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