Q. What is osteoporosis?
A. Osteoporosis is a disease in which bone becomes extremely fragile. Learn more about osteoporosis.
Q. Why do you measure my heel for the osteoporosis risk assessment screening?
A. Life Line Screening uses ultrasound to measure the bone density of your heel. We measure the heel because its bone most closely matches that of your hip and it is a weight-bearing bone. The objective of this screening is to identify your risk for bone loss and therefore your risk for future bone fracture based on the bone mineral density of your heel.
Q. Will this screening tell me if I have osteoporosis?
A. If your results fall in the categories of mild/moderate risk or high risk for bone diminishment, this does not absolutely mean that you have bone loss, although it is a possibility. Osteoporosis is a complex disorder, and no single risk factor should be used for diagnosis. Your bone mineral density measurement will be used along with your other clinical risk factors (gender, age, fracture history, family history, medications, smoking, exercise, calcium intake, and general health status) as an aid in deciding if you should have a DEXA scan—the gold standard in the diagnosis of osteoporosis.
Q. Why should I have the Life Line Screening osteoporosis risk assessment? Shouldn't I just get a DEXA scan?
A. If you are among the 50% of those we screen who are at low risk for bone diminishment, you will not need a DEXA scan. Our screening is a much lower-cost, radiation-free, logical first step in helping you identify your risk for osteoporosis.
Q. How accurate is the Life Line Screening osteoporosis risk assessment?
A. It is approximately 90% accurate. Since we are screening your heel and not your hip, and since osteoporosis is not uniform throughout the body, false positives may occur.
Q. Are there clinical studies showing that ultrasound bone densitometers that measure the heel are accurate enough to benefit me?
A. Yes. The National Osteoporosis Risk Assessment (NORA) Study, published December 12, 2001, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, assessed osteoporosis in 200,000 postmenopausal women using peripheral bone densitometers including the model used by Life Line Screening. The authors concluded that, while osteoporosis and low bone mass are reaching epidemic proportions, the conditions remain largely under-diagnosed. Because DEXA is an expensive and limited option for many, ultrasound remains an effective and practical screening tool for the population at large.
Q. How will my doctor use the information from the Life Line Screening osteoporosis risk assessment?
A. If our osteoporosis screening finds you are at risk for osteoporosis, your doctor may recommend dietary and lifestyle changes, schedule a DEXA scan, or even prescribe a drug therapy to increase your bone density.