The contribution of bone densitometry to the diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis

Public Health. 1997 May;111(3):191-4. doi: 10.1016/S0033-3506(97)00582-9.


Objective: It has recently been proposed that a specialist osteoporosis service, including bone densitometry, should be made available to those most at risk in the UK population. The aim of this study was to evaluate such a service, and in particular the role of bone densitometry, in terms of its effect on the diagnosis of osteoporosis and clinical management of the disease.

Methods: A retrospective data abstraction study was performed to investigate the diagnosis and management of patients referred to the Metabolic Clinic, City Hospital Nottingham, with a potential diagnosis of osteoporosis. Hospital records were available for 117 patients, aged between 45 and 59, who had attended the Clinic in a given time period and undergone bone mineral density measurement.

Results: Forty-eight patients (41.0%) had osteoporosis of the lumbar spine. The final diagnosis of osteoporosis after attending the clinic was different from that on referral in a substantial proportion (62.6%) of cases. Only 48.9% of patients with spinal osteoporosis were identified by their referring doctor. The percentage of patients receiving treatment for osteoporosis increased from 34.2% to 72.6% after attending the clinic.

Conclusions: Measurement of bone mineral density identifies cases of osteoporosis who would not otherwise be detected and as a consequence contributes to the proportion of patients receiving treatment after referral. The osteoporosis service provided by the Metabolic Clinic including measurement of bone mineral density was thus found to have a considerable impact on the diagnosis and treatment of patients with osteoporosis.

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon / standards*
  • Bone Density
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Osteoporosis / therapy
  • Outpatient Clinics, Hospital / standards*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Retrospective Studies