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Bone mineral density measurement

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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A variety of bone mineral density measurement techniques are available and these have been applied to various anatomical sites:

  • dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) - the most widely used technique (1)
  • peripheral dual energy X-ray absorptiometry
  • single energy X-ray absorptiometry
  • quantitative ultrasound (QUS)
  • quantitative computed tomography (QCT) (1)

Site-specific measurements are more predictive than measurements at other sites (relative risk 2.0-2.8 vs 1.5-2.2).

Measurements taken at different sites or with different technologies are not well correlated. Hence the proportion of individuals classified as having osteoporosis (on a T score <-2.5) will vary considerably on the site and method of measurement

Because of these considerations it has been suggested that bone density measurement should be standardised to total hip bone mineral density measured by DEXA.


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