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Bone densitometry service now available at National Referral Hospital

People in the country can now know their bone health to see if the bones are more fragile from a bone densitometry test. Bone densitometry is a test that uses X-rays to measure bone mineral content and density to determine whether a person’s bones are weak or at risk of fracture. The National Referral Hospital introduced the first bone densitometry unit in the country yesterday.

The machine called DEXA Scan will measure the density of the bone in terms of whether the bone is healthy or weak. During the scan, the patient is asked to remain still to prevent blurry images.

The scan is painless and relatively quick, taking up to 30 minutes. The service is available only on the recommendation of the doctor.

“Mostly we measure the bone from the spine, hip, and forearm. Then we do a scoring which we call it T-score and Z-score. We compare the bone density with one of the patients who are normal, healthy, and younger maybe 25 to 30 years. In that way, we measure the bone density,” said Dr Deki Choden, Radiologist at the National Referral Hospital.

The monitor shows the scoring of the bone density. If it displays a negative 2.5 and above, it means the person has osteoporosis but if it shows a positive number, it means normal.

Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens bones which can lead to an increased risk of fracture. Females who are postmenopausal but younger than 65, people with a family history of osteoporosis, lack of vitamin D and calcium, and people on steroid medication are advised to have a DEXA scan.

“As per the National Osteoporosis Foundation, females above the age of 65 and males above the age of 70 are most prone to bone fragility. So, most of those patients in that age group come for a bone scan,” added Dr Deki Choden.

The service will be freely available to the people beginning next week.

Bone densitometry test costs around Nu 3,000 to 6,000 per scan in other countries.

Kelzang Choden

Edited by Sonam Pem