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  • Study: Second Bone Density Test Within 4 Years Has Questionable Value

    A new study suggests that older adults without osteoporosis can wait longer between screenings. The study concluded that when an initial bone-mineral-density (BMD) screening showed no osteoporosis, repeating the test 4 years later didn't necessarily help to predict the risk for bone fracture.

    Medicare pays for BMD screening every 2 years, and on average beneficiaries' screenings are 2.2 years apart. The researchers concluded, among other things, that while a small proportion of the subjects were reclassified upon the second test as high risk for fracture, it was "unclear whether the reclassification justifies the current US practice of performing serial BMD tests at 2.2-year intervals."

    They added, however, that detecting BMD loss would have been "paramount for the … individuals reclassified by a second BMD test who went on to experience a fracture."

    The study, published Tuesday in JAMA and free in full text, included more than 800 men and women with an average age of 75. A summary of the study in MedlinePlus includes interview quotes from study author Sarah Berry, MD, MPH, and National Osteoporosis Foundation President Robert Recker, MD.