Repeating Measurement of Bone Mineral Density when Monitoring with Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry: 2019 ISCD Official Position

J Clin Densitom. 2019 Oct-Dec;22(4):489-500. doi: 10.1016/j.jocd.2019.07.010. Epub 2019 Jul 17.


Bone mineral density (BMD) can be measured at multiple skeletal sites using various technologies to aid clinical decision-making in bone and mineral disorders. BMD by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) has a critical role in predicting risk of fracture, diagnosis of osteoporosis, and monitoring patients. In clinical practice, DXA remains the most available and best validated tool for monitoring patients. A quality baseline DXA scan is essential for comparison with all subsequent scans. Monitoring patients with serial measurements requires technical expertise and knowledge of the least significant change in order to determine when follow-up scans should be repeated. Prior ISCD Official Positions have clarified how and when repeat DXA is useful as well as the interpretation of results. The 2019 ISCD Official Positions considered new evidence and clarifies if and when BMD should be repeated. There is good evidence showing that repeat BMD measurement can identify people who experience bone loss, which is an independent predictor of fracture risk. There is good evidence showing that the reduction in spine and hip fractures with osteoporosis medication is proportional to the change in BMD with treatment. There is evidence that measuring BMD is useful following discontinuation of osteoporosis treatment. There is less documentation addressing the effectiveness of monitoring BMD to improve medication adherence, whether monitoring of BMD reduces the risk of fracture, or effectively discriminates patients who should and should not recommence treatment following an interruption of medication. Further research is needed in all of these areas.

Keywords: BMD; DXA; Osteoporosis; fracture risk; monitor.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon / standards*
  • Bone Density*
  • Consensus Development Conferences as Topic*
  • Humans
  • Osteoporosis / diagnosis*
  • Societies, Medical*