Bone density scans now available at NHHN 02/06/2004 Beginning Monday, Sept. 2, the Forum Diagnostic Center is offering bone density scans to screen for osteoporosis six days a week during extended evening and Saturday hours. The Diagnostic Center, in The Forum off Military Cutoff Road, is the only New Hanover Health Network site currently equipped to perform this quick, easy and painless procedure.
"We are so excited to be the first New Hanover site to offer bone density scans to our patients and especially to our own employees," said Forum manager Barbara Hyatt, a NHHN veteran of 16 years. "Before now our employees had to go outside of the network, but now they can come to us, even after work and on Saturdays. It'll be a great service."
Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, or DEXA scan, is the gold standard of osteoporosis assessment. It measures Bone Mineral Density, or BMD, which allows the physician to track bone health and determine the risk of fractures in common areas such as the hip, spine and wrist.
Generally, physicians recommend bone density scans every two years for women 50 and older because post-menopausal women are four times more likely to develop osteoporosis than men. Caucasian and Asian women as well as small-boned, thin women are the most likely to develop the bone disease.
During the procedure, the patient lies fully clothed on an open bed while a C-shaped scanner passes beside the bed, without touching the patient. The entire procedure is completed in about 20 minutes. The film is then read by a radiologist, who compares the patient's BMD to the peak bone density for a young, normal adult and the patient's current age group. The amount of radiation is one-twentieth of that used in a chest x-ray.
The new bone densitometer was installed and calibrated this week. The staff at the Forum Diagnostic Center is receiving advanced training on the new equipment and is working towards board certification after performing the required number of procedures.
Most insurance policies, including Blue Cross/Blue Shield and HealthCare Savings, cover bone density scans if the physician deems the procedure medically necessary. To schedule an appointment, call the Forum Diagnostic Center directly at 332-3321 or Central Scheduling at 452-8777. Patients must have a physician order authorizing the procedure.