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Women & Babies Hospital > Osteoporosis Testing

Osteoporosis testing

2100 Harrisburg Pike

Lancaster, PA 17604

(717) 544-3759

The Silent Disease

Osteoporosis is a silent disease that reduces bone strength and leads to bone fractures that rob women of their mobility and health. Bone loss occurs earlier than you might think. After you turn 30, your bone begins to break down faster than it’s made. After menopause bone loss accelerates rapidly because of decreasing estrogen levels.  Bone becomes porous, brittle and weak.

With the help of two screening techniques—the Sahara bone sonometer test and a bone mineral density test—your doctor can assess your risk for developing osteoporosis. If these tests show that you are at risk, medications are available that help keep bones from thinning.

You can also help prevent osteoporosis by:

  • getting enough calcium in your diet
  • doing regular, weight bearing exercise
  • avoiding smoking
  • limiting alcohol intake.

Are You At Risk?

More than half of women over the age of 65 suffer from osteoporosis. Even more revealing is that one of every two women over age 50 suffers a bone fracture due to osteoporosis, and up to 24% of women who suffer hip fractures die within one year of the fracture.

Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than men, although men with low testosterone levels are at a higher risk. Women have a greater risk of developing the disease after menopause (including early or surgically-induced menopause), if they have a thin or small frame, or a family history. Caucasian and Asian women have a higher risk than other women, although African-American and Hispanic-American women also face significant risk. Other risk factors include:

  • Abnormal absence of menstrual periods
  • Anorexia nervosa or bulimia
  • A diet low in calcium
  • Use of some medications, including corticosteroids and anticonvulsants
  • An inactive lifestyle
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Excessive use of alcohol

Early Detection is Critical

Because osteoporosis can occur slowly over time with no symptoms, detecting the condition early is important. With the help of two techniques, your doctor can assess your risk for developing osteoporosis.

A quantitative ultrasound, or Sahara test, transmits painless sound waves through the heel to determine bone density. This screening tool helps your physician decide if you need further evaluation by DXA scan.

The diagnostic DXA bone mineral density scan is a fast, non-invasive X-ray performed on your lumbar spine, hip and wrists that predicts your risk for a fracture.

The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that you have a bone density scan if:

You are a postmenopausal woman under age 65 with one or more additional risk factors for osteoporotic fracture (besides menopause).

You are older than 65 with no additional risk factors.

You are a postmenopausal woman who has had fractures, and testing will help confirm diagnosis and determine disease severity.

You are considering therapy for osteoporosis and testing would facilitate your decision.

You have been on hormone replacement therapy for prolonged periods.

For more information, or to schedule a screening, call Osteoporosis Testing Facility, 2100 Harrisburg Pike, at (717) 544-3759. Or, go to lghealth.org/menopause for more information on menopause education offered by Lancaster General Health.

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