Government advisers and leading doctor groups urge osteoporosis screening, but no one has known how often that should happen. The findings offer the best information to date on that question, experts said.
“This is landmark, in the sense that it could allow us to move on to more precise guidelines,” said Dr. Heidi Nelson, a researcher at the Oregon Health & Science University who is an expert on the topic.
At issues are bone mineral density tests, which usually are done through X-rays and cost around $250. It takes about 10 minutes and involves less radiation. Medicare pays for testing every two years.
The new study feeds concerns that the tests are done too often.
“It’s an expenditure of time, it’s exposure to radiation, and it’s cost. And there’s no reason to expose yourself to any risks if there’s going to be no benefit,” explained Dr. Virginia Moyer, who heads the US Preventive Services Task Force, a panel that issues testing guidelines.
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