Osteoporosis & Advanced Imaging Techniques: Improving Diagnosis & Treatment

As National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month comes to a close, it’s important to remember that the disease is an increasingly important public health issue, and effective treatments to prevent fragility fractures are available. Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones caused by losing too much bone, making too little bone or a combination of the two. As a result, bones become weak and can break from a minor fall or, in serious cases, from simple actions. Osteoporosis imaging is of critical importance in identifying individuals at risk for fractures who would require pharmacotherapy to reduce fracture risk and who should be monitored in response to treatment.

Substantial research efforts have focused on assessing bone quality by using advanced imaging techniques, as a result of a 2000 National Institutes of Health consensus conference. High-resolution peripheral quantitative CT plays a central role at better characterizing fracture risk and treatment effects. A number of recent studies have used the technique to study trabecular and cortical bone architecture. MRI, quantitative ultrasonography and multidetector CT are additional techniques used to analyze bone quality.

However, quantitative imaging techniques to measure bone density and quality are not the only uses for radiology in treating osteoporosis. Imaging should be used to diagnose prevalent osteoporotic fractures, including spine fractures on chest radiographs and sagittal multidetector CT reconstructions. At UCSF, radiologists are sensitized to the fact that the presence of fragility fractures alters patient care and that fractures must be documented and noted in patient reports.

Osteoporosis causes more than 8.9 million fractures annually. That’s an osteoporotic fracture every 3 seconds. Before you are diagnosed with the bone disease, learn how you can prevent osteoporosis and improve your bone health. However, if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with the disease, learn about state-of-the-art imaging techniques that can be used to live with and prevent osteoporotic fractures.

For more information on these techniques, please see here.

Learn more about the history of osteoporosis and imaging here.