Little benefit to repeat bone density scans in older women

March 1, 2007

Repeating bone mineral density (BMD) scans among postmenopausal women reveals little new information that is helpful in predicting fractures, according to a report in the Jan. 22 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Repeating bone mineral density (BMD) scans among postmenopausal women reveals little new information that is helpful in predicting fractures, according to a report in the Jan. 22 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Teresa A. Hillier, MD, of Kaiser Permanente Northwest/Hawaii in Portland, Ore., and colleagues measured the total hip BMD of 4,124 women, average age 72, on two occasions 8 years apart and predicted the risk of fracture. Between the two tests, women lost an average of 0.59% of BMD annually.

Of the sample, 877 women had an incident non-traumatic non-spine fracture, including 275 hip fractures, and 340 women had a spine fracture. There was no difference between risk of fracture and the BMD measurements taken on the first or the second occasion.

"For the average healthy older woman 65 years or older, a repeat BMD measurement has little or no value in classifying risk for future fracture-even for the average older woman who has osteoporosis by initial BMD measure or high BMD loss," they write.

Hillier TA, Stone KL, Bauer DC, et al. Evaluating the value of repeat bone mineral density measurement and prediction of fractures in older women. Arch Intern Med. 2007;167:155-160.