Study: Doctors failing to test for osteoporosis

Monday, August 7th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Doctors are failing to test women who suffer wrist fractures for osteoporosis, even though treatment often
proves effective and the same women face a greater risk of more serious bone fractures, new research says.

The study of 1,162 women over age 54 who suffered wrist fractures found that only 33 patients underwent a bone density scan to detect the presence of osteoporosis and only 266 were treated with medication for the disease. Those women are nearly twice as likely to have hip fractures.

"There is a lack of communication between the physicians treating the fractures and the (primary care) physicians who are treating the more chronic medical problems," said Dr. Kevin B. Freedman, lead author of the study, published in the August issue of The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.

The study suggests that women who receive treatment for osteoporosis have a dramatically lower risk of breaking more bones.

Osteoporosis gradually weakens bones and often leads to painful and crippling fractures. It affects about one-third of women and 10
percent of men.

Dr. Michele Bellantoni, medical director of the Osteoporosis enter at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, said rthopedic surgeons tend not to "view treatment of osteoporosis as art of what they do."

She said a recent study of women receiving treatment at Johns Hopkins for hip fractures found that 50 percent had previous extremities fractures but did not undergo a diagnostic test for the disease.

"Drugs reduce the risk of new fractures by 50 percent. They are effective treatments but can't be used until people make the
connection between fractures and thin bones," Bellantoni said.

On the Net:American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons:

Foundation for Osteoporosis Research and Education:

International Osteoporosis Foundation: