Data from ultrasonography of the calcaneus (heel bone) was equal to data gathered using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA), which is considered the gold standard for assessing bone health, according to researchers.
The findings, published recently in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, could lead to lower costs and increased screening for populations at-risk for bone diseases, which study authors say extends well beyond postmenopausal women.
“Prior research has demonstrated strong correlations between education level and socioeconomic status and bone quality,” says coauthor Andrea Nazar, DO, a family physician and professor of clinical science at West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, in a media release from the American Osteopathic Association.
“Because of its low-cost, mobility, and safety, ultrasound is a promising tool for assessing more people, across multiple demographics.”
Researchers say DXA scans remain the best option for thorough, comprehensive information on a patient’s bone health. However, the equipment is expensive, immobile and exposes patients to ionizing radiation. Those limitations create barriers to screening larger populations.
“Using ultrasound to scan the heel won’t give us all the information we could gather with a full DXA scan,” says Carolyn Komar, PhD, associate professor of biomedical sciences at West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine and coauthor on this study. “However, it gives us a clear enough snapshot to know whether we should be concerned for the patient.”
BMD decreases naturally with age, which means people who do not establish sufficiently strong bones as young adults are at increased risk for diseases like osteoporosis later in life, the release explains.
The most effective lifestyle interventions for young adults are nutrition and exercise, Nazar comments.
“Most people think our bones are static structures once we reach adulthood. On the contrary, they are dynamic and shaped by how we live,” Nazar concludes. “There are pharmacologic options to treat osteoporosis and improve bone health, but the best approach is preventive lifestyle changes.”
[Source(s): American Osteopathic Association, PR Newswire]