About Careers MedBlog Contact us

Screening for Osteoporosis

Last Updated on Oct 17, 2013
Font : A-A+


Osteoporosis or thinning of bone results in decreased strength of bone. Though it does not cause any symptoms, it predisposes an individual to fractures especially of the wrist (Colle’s fracture), backbone (compression fracture of vertebra) and hip (fracture neck of femur) even with minor trauma. Thus, early detection of the condition using screening methods and early treatment helps to avoid fractures and its associated morbidity to the patients.


Worldwide, the risk of suffering from osteoporotic fractures is 30-50% in women and 15 to 30% in men.

In India, 1 out of every 3 women and 1 out of every 8 men suffer from osteoporosis. Thus, women are more prone to developing osteoporosis. Estrogens have a protective effect on bones; thus lack of estrogens during menopause plays an important role in the development of osteoporosis.

Other factors that increase a person’s risk for developing osteoporotic fractures include:

  • Prior fracture in the individual or his/her close relatives
  • Low body weight, thin stature or poor health
  • Older age
  • Cigarette smoking or Alcoholism
  • Corticosteroid use for more than 3 months
  • Estrogen deficiency at an early age due to conditions like early menopause
  • Dementia
  • Impaired eyesight
  • Recent falls
  • Low calcium intake
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Decreased physical activity

Osteoporosis Screening Test

Who should undergo screening for osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis screening is recommended for all women over the age of 65 years. It is also indicated in postmenopausal women below the age of 65 years who are at a risk for suffering from osteoporotic fractures. Other women or men may consult their doctor regarding the test in case they are at high risk for developing osteoporotic fractures.


How frequently does the screening test need to be repeated?

Though there are no definite recommendations for repeating the test in an individual who has had a negative test, it may be repeated after a minimum of 2 years.

How is screening for osteoporosis done?

Screening for osteoporosis is done using a Bone Mineral Density scan or a DEXA scan (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry Scan). The scan measures bone density usually at the hips or the spine. The patient needs to lie still on the table while the scan is done. The density is measured in terms of a score called the T-score.

  • T-score of less or equal to -2.5 indicates osteoporosis.
  • T-score between -1 and -2.5 indicates a milder form of the disease called osteopenia. People in this range are at a high risk for developing osteoporosis.

Peripheral DEXA machines are also used that measure bone density at the heel, forearm and fingers. Quantitative ultrasound of the heel is also sometimes used in screening for osteoporosis.

Frequently Asked Questions

1) Which doctor should I see if my DEXA scan comes abnormal?

You should visit an Orthopaedic specialist or an Endocrinologist in case your DEXA scan is abnormal.

2) Can I get the DEXA scan done more frequently?

There are no specific recommendations regarding how often the DEXA scan should be done. However, if your test is negative, it will take a minimum of 2 years for the scan to detect any changes in your bone. Thus a more frequent DEXA scan would not be of much use.


3) Should men also undergo screening for osteoporosis?

Most guidelines do not currently recommended osteoporosis screening for men. However, men especially from the older age group should be repeatedly assessed for risk factors for developing osteoporosis. They should undergo screening if they are found to be at a risk for osteoporosis and osteoporosis-related fractures and if they could possibly benefit from treatment.

4) What are the possible harms of screening for osteoporosis?

The DEXA scan may not always give a 100% accurate result. If it suggests that the individual has osteoporosis when it is actually absent (false positive result), the individual may have to undergo unnecessary treatment. It could also cause anxiety to the individual. At the same time, a wrong negative result (false negative result) could deprive the individual of treatment.

  1. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine 17th Edition.
  2. Bone Density Scan - (http://www.medicinenet.com/bone_density_scan/article.htm)
  3. OSTEOPOROSIS FACT SHEET - (http://www.dolcera.com/wiki/images/Osteoporosis_factsheet.pdf)

Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Dr. Simi Paknikar. (2013, October 17). Screening for Osteoporosis. Medindia. Retrieved on Dec 04, 2022 from https://www.medindia.net/health-screening-test/screening-for-osteoporosis.htm.

  • MLA

    Dr. Simi Paknikar. "Screening for Osteoporosis". Medindia. Dec 04, 2022. <https://www.medindia.net/health-screening-test/screening-for-osteoporosis.htm>.

  • Chicago

    Dr. Simi Paknikar. "Screening for Osteoporosis". Medindia. https://www.medindia.net/health-screening-test/screening-for-osteoporosis.htm. (accessed Dec 04, 2022).

  • Harvard

    Dr. Simi Paknikar. 2021. Screening for Osteoporosis. Medindia, viewed Dec 04, 2022, https://www.medindia.net/health-screening-test/screening-for-osteoporosis.htm.

Latest Publications and Research on Screening for Osteoporosis

Do you wish to consult an Orthopedic Doctor for your problem? Ask your question

Dr. Siddharth Jaiswal
Dr. Siddharth  Jaiswal
MBBS, D ortho
6 years experience
Dr. Ravi Suryawanshi
Dr. Ravi Suryawanshi
12 years experience
Dr. Rakesh Kumar Sharma
Dr. Rakesh Kumar Sharma
38 years experience
Dr. Santosh Kadam
Dr. Santosh Kadam
7 years experience
Ashirwad Hospital, Vidhya Nagar , BEED
View All

Post a Comment

Comments should be on the topic and should not be abusive. The editorial team reserves the right to review and moderate the comments posted on the site.

Recommended Reading
Health Topics A - Z

    What's New on Medindia
    Diet and Oral Health: The Sugary Connection May Become Sour
    World AIDS Day 2022 - Equalize!
    Test Your Knowledge on Sugar Intake and Oral Health
    View all

    Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

    Most Popular on Medindia

    Drug Interaction Checker Nutam (400mg) (Piracetam) Drug - Food Interactions Accident and Trauma Care Noscaphene (Noscapine) Iron Intake Calculator The Essence of Yoga Color Blindness Calculator Daily Calorie Requirements Drug Side Effects Calculator
    This site uses cookies to deliver our services.By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use  Ok, Got it. Close