Formal Osteoporosis Screening Lowers Fracture Risk in Patients
Appropriate screening for osteoporosis plays a critical role in reducing fracture incidence, according to the results of a recent study.
Researchers in the Department of Clinical Sciences at Lund University in Sweden conducted a study to understand the effects of an osteoporosis screening program on patients’ fracture risk. Their study, “Screening for osteoporosis reduced new fracture incidence by almost half,” was published online ahead of print in November 2012. It appears in the journal Acta Orthopaedica.
The researchers began a formal screening program at their research site in 2002 to test patients for osteoporosis. Patients between the ages of 50 and 75 who presented with a wrist, hip, shoulder, or vertebral fracture were assessed using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) of the hip and spine. The patients were also encouraged to visit their doctor to discuss osteoporosis treatment options.
In addition to the examination, patients received written documentation with information about osteoporosis, a copy of their DEXA results, and a letter for their doctor containing suggestions about blood tests and treatments.
The present study included a 6-year follow-up with patients who participated in the screening program. Their results were compared with those of a historical control group that was seen in the department a year before the screening program began.
Individuals in the screening group and the control group were given a questionnaire about their bone health in recent years. They were asked whether they had any additional fractures, whether they had seen a doctor, and whether they had started any osteoporosis treatments.
Out of the 286 patients in the screening program, 219 (77%) responded to the questionnaire, while 239 of the 306 unscreened patients (68%) participated in the study. In the screening group, 39 new fractures had occurred, compared to 69 new fractures in the control group.
The researchers conclude that the fracture risk was 42% lower in the patients who were part of the rigorous screening program. They state that this demonstrates that the screening procedure was effective in helping patients reduce further fractures.