Why A DEXA Scan Is Not Reliable

Do you know why a DEXA Scan is not reliable in testing for osteopenia?

I have often been asked if I get bone density scans.

My answer is always that a DEXA bone density scan for osteopenia is not reliable, so I see no point in getting one.

In fact, you may be worried that you are in serious trouble with weak and less than normal bones, when your test is not at all trustworthy.

There are several problems with DEXA scans.  A few of them are:

1. You usually don’t learn anything about the condition of your bones  until        1 or 2 years after the first  scan

2. The scan may be referencing the wrong spot for  the second scan

3. Looking at a picture does not tell you what is happening inside the bone.

4. The test scans a spot now and then takes another scan at a later date to compare with the first one to see if there is any change.  During that interval you just have to wait for the report

5. It is difficult to aim the scanner to the exact same spot that was scanned the first time, so it may not even be a true comparison.

Most researchers believe that women especially have the best bone density at 30 years of age, before the bones begin to deteriorate.

It is believed that this is true because after menopause the decrease in the amount of hormones has a direct effect upon the bones.

Another problem with the DEXA test is that the second picture must be taken from the exact same spot and angle –very hard to do when the pictures are taken 2 years apart.

The most important problem is that in the scan results, your doctor can only see how thick the bone looks.  But this never tells the inner strength of the bone.

Your bone tissue is constantly changing like any other living tissues in your body. A remodeling process causes the bone to slough off the  old tissue and rebuild it with new tissue.

If your bone is unhealthy or you have been taking certain meds, the bone may not be getting rid of the old tissue.  So it may
look thicker while it is actually just storing the old calcium and becoming more brittle every day.

There is now a much more reliable test called Pyrilinks-D. This test tells exactly what is happening inside your bone. When your bone breaks down, it produces Dpd in your urine. The amount of Dpd in the urine tells if your bone is rebuilding as fast as it is breaking down or if the rebuilding is slower.

For the Pyrilinks-D test, you use strips with chemicals on them that react with your urine, similar to the strips you may have used to test urine for the Ph-alkaline- acid testing.  There are several labs now that offer this test, so I urge you to ask your doctor about this, rather than allow the DEXA scan.

You can repeat the Pyrilinks-D test as often as you wish to monitor your progress in eliminating osteopenia.

Disclaimer:  The FDA has not evaluated these statements. The contents of this post are not to be considered medical advice and are for educational purposes only.  If you are experiencing health challenges, always consult your doctor for medical advice.

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