Anthony Mitarotondo, MD
Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to break. If not prevented or if left untreated, osteoporosis can progress painlessly until a bone breaks. These broken bones, also known as fractures, occur typically in the hip, spine, and wrist.
Any bone can be affected, but of special concern are fractures of the hip and spine. A hip fracture almost always requires hospitalization and major surgery. It can impair a person's ability to walk unassisted and may cause prolonged or permanent disability or even death. Spinal or vertebral fractures also have serious consequences, including loss of height, severe back pain, and deformity. While women are four times more likely than men to develop the disease, men also suffer from osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is treatable and preventable. Early diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and the use of bone density testing to diagnose and monitor response to therapy have greatly improved the prognosis for patients.
Medicare reimburses for Bone Mineral Density (BMD) testing every two years. Bone mineral density tests are available through the Radiology Department at Eastern Long Island Hospital. The scan is a reliable test to determine early stages of bone loss associated with osteoporosis. The scan results are reproducible, allowing measurements to be taken over time showing progression of disease or improvement in bone density due to treatment. During the exam, you lie fully clothed on a padded table while the system scans one or more areas of bone (usually the lower spine or hip).
A radiologist at Eastern Long Island Hospital who specializes in bones and muscles will review your images and prepare a diagnostic report to share with your doctor. Your doctor will consider this information in context of your overall care, and talk with you about the results. A BMD test can:
• Detect osteoporosis before a fracture occurs
• Predict chances of fracturing in the future
• Determine rate of bone loss and/or monitor the effects of treatment if a DEXA BMD test is conducted at intervals of one year or more
By about age 20, the average woman has acquired 98 percent of her skeletal mass. Building strong bones during childhood and adolescence can be the best defense against developing osteoporosis later. There are five steps, which together can optimize bone health and help prevent osteoporosis. They are:
• A balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D
• Weight-bearing and resistance-training exercises
• A healthy lifestyle with no smoking or excessive alcohol intake
• Talking to one’s healthcare professional about bone health
• Bone density testing and medication when appropriate
The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates 55% of people age 50 and older in the United States have osteoporosis or low bone mass. More than 14 million men and 30 million women are affected by this condition.
This information is provided by Anthony E. Mitarotondo, Jr., MD, Director of Radiology at Eastern Long Island Hospital and President of the Medical Staff. Dr. Mitarotondo is board certified by the American Board of Radiology.