The Grapevine

Ultrasound May Soon Be Used For Cheaper Osteoporosis Screening

Doctors may soon offer cheaper ways for early screening for osteoporosis after researchers found that traditional ultrasound can also be used to assess bone health. 

A new study, published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, shows that ultrasound provided the same quality of data gathered using costly dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) method, EurekAlert reported Monday.

DXA scans currently are considered the best option to assess a patient's bone health. However, the equipment is expensive and immobile and exposes patients to ionizing radiation, the researchers said. The team suggested that the latest findings could help provide low-cost screening for osteoporosis, which could then lead to more people being able to assess their health for potential bone disease.

“Because of its low-cost, mobility and safety, ultrasound is a promising tool for assessing more people, across multiple demographics,” said study co-author Andrea Nazar, a physician and professor of clinical science at West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine. 

Using ultrasound “gives us a clear enough snapshot to know whether we should be concerned for the patient,” added Carolyn Komar, study co-author and associate professor of biomedical sciences at West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine.

Nazar noted that people should still prioritize lifestyle interventions to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, particularly for young adults. She said that nutrition and exercise can help improve bone health. 

“Most people think our bones are static structures once we reach adulthood,” Nazar said. “On the contrary, they are dynamic and shaped by how we live. There are pharmacologic options to treat osteoporosis and improve bone health, but the best approach is preventive lifestyle changes,” the researcher added. 

A combination of healthy, balanced diet and weight-bearing exercises not only promotes a good immune system and healthy muscle but also helps strengthen the bone.