Objective: High-quality dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans are necessary for accurate diagnosis of osteoporosis and monitoring of therapy; however, DXA scan reports may contain errors that cause confusion about diagnosis and treatment. This American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists/American College of Endocrinology consensus statement was generated to draw attention to many common technical problems affecting DXA report conclusions and provide guidance on how to address them to ensure that patients receive appropriate osteoporosis care.
Methods: The DXA Writing Committee developed a consensus based on discussion and evaluation of available literature related to osteoporosis and osteodensitometry.
Results: Technical errors may include errors in scan acquisition and/or analysis, leading to incorrect diagnosis and reporting of change over time. Although the International Society for Clinical Densitometry advocates training for technologists and medical interpreters to help eliminate these problems, many lack skill in this technology. Suspicion that reports are wrong arises when clinical history is not compatible with scan interpretation (e.g., dramatic increase/decrease in a short period of time; declines in previously stable bone density after years of treatment), when different scanners are used, or when inconsistent anatomic sites are used for monitoring the response to therapy. Understanding the concept of least significant change will minimize erroneous conclusions about changes in bone density.
Conclusion: Clinicians must develop the skills to differentiate technical problems, which confound reports, from real biological changes. We recommend that clinicians review actual scan images and data, instead of relying solely on the impression of the report, to pinpoint errors and accurately interpret DXA scan images.
Abbreviations: AACE = American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists; BMC = bone mineral content; BMD = bone mineral density; DXA = dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry; ISCD = International Society for Clinical Densitometry; LSC = least significant change; TBS = trabecular bone score; WHO = World Health Organization.