If you had the opportunity to have a bone density test that is 30 percent more accurate and takes a third of the time as a traditional bone density test, wouldn’t you jump at the chance?

The opportunity has arrived, in the form of QCT Bone Densitometry, a bone density test that is run on the CT scanner at Dominican Health Services in Fruitland.

Bone density tests are requested by physicians when they have reason to believe a patient’s bones may be breaking down, typically as a result of age. The test measures how dense your bones are, which is an indication of how strong they are.

The new QCT test at Dominican Health Services takes only 10 minutes, and it is quite accurate, according to Radiology Technician Noa Towner of DHS.

“ Because this is done on a CT scanner, it takes the potential for human error out of the equation,” Towner said. “It is all done on the computer.” The traditional test, she said, sends a beam of radiation through the body, which is read out the back. “Anything in the beam’s path that is calcium is read,” she said. The test reads only in one dimension, and has a 30 percent margin of error.

The QCT test, however, provides a three-dimensional look at the spinal trabecular bone. “It looks at the patient as if they were sliced in half – like a loaf of bread,” Towner said. “You see the spine in cross-section, and take a reading of the backbone – the core of the bone.”

The CT scanner has been in operation at DHS for several years, but the QCT software has only been up and running since April. In that time, Towner said, more than 70 patients have had the test.

“ The doctors like it better, because it’s more accurate,” she said. In addition, some insurance companies reimburse better for the QCT than the traditional test, because it is more accurate.

People who are at higher risk for osteoporosis include post-menopausal women, people who have Cushing’s syndrome and diabetes, take thyroid medications or corticosteroids, people who have a family history of osteoporosis, have a diet low in dairy products or other calcium sources, or who smoke, drink heavily or don’t exercise regularly.

 



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