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Bone Density
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Bone Density


Finger Lakes Health offers two convenient locations in the Finger Lakes where we can use a bone densitometer to diagnose osteoporosis. The Women's Health suite is located on the third floor of the Medical Office Building adjacent to Geneva General Hospital, and at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital, a specialized area for women's services is located in the Diagnostic Imaging Department.

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a common disease affecting women and men as they age. With osteoporosis, bones become fragile and more likely to break. Osteoporosis literally means "porous bone", and the disease results in an increased loss of bone mass and strength. The disease often progresses painlessly until a bone breaks. Broken bones, or fractures, occur typically in the hip, spine and wrist, with hip and spinal fractures having particularly serious consequences. The National Osteoporosis Foundation reports that one in two women and one in eight men over the age of 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime. Osteoporosis takes its toll slowly over time, when neither the patient nor the doctor is aware that the bones are weakening. However, osteoporosis does not have to be a normal part of the aging process.

What can be done to keep bones healthy?

The current recommendations are founded upon a basic, common sense formula for overall good health - exercising regularly and eating nutritious meals. Finger Lakes Health offers the gold standard in diagnosis. Through technology called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry - or DEXA - the bone densitometer measures the bone mineral content and density of specific bone sites (mainly hip and spine) that are most susceptible to fracture due to osteoporosis and other degenerative bone diseases. Bone densitometers allow for a more comprehensive evaluation and more reliable screening. DEXA is the most technologically advanced equipment in bone density diagnosis with a 99% accuracy rate.

Bone density testing is fast and painless. It requires no injections or invasive procedures. During the screening process, a patient lies fully clothed on a padded treatment table, while the machine scans one or more areas of bone. This technology is safer than the average x-ray, with a radiation dose being less than the cumulative radiation exposure during a coast-to-coast airline flight.

"All women over 50 years of age or past menopause should talk to their doctors about their risk of developing osteoporosis," says Mary Ann Walton, radiology supervisor at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital. "The risk is much higher than most women realize. We now have treatments that have been shown to actually reverse bone loss. Our goal is to help men and women identify osteoporosis through early detection in order to maintain their independent lifestyles and avoid preventable injuries."

Speak with your gynecologist, internist or family practitioner for a referral, or call (315) 787-4400 in Geneva or (315) 531-2544 in Penn Yan.

Bone Up on Bone Health

There are factors which increase your risk for osteoporosis that cannot be controlled:

  • Genetic predisposition: particularly if your mother or grandmother had osteoporosis
  • Hormones: if you are female and have very irregular periods or go through menopause before age 45
  • Age: over 65 years
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Gender: women do not build as much peak bone mass as men, putting them at higher risk
  • Race: Caucasian and Asian women are more likely to develop osteoporosis
  • Bone Structure: small framed, thin women under 127 pounds are at a greater risk

As with other diseases, there are some risk factors that can be controlled:

  • Exercise: regular weight-bearing exercise strengthens muscles that improve balance and reduces the possibility of falling
  • Calcium intake: ensure you are getting adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D - 1,200-1,500 mg of calcium per day
  • Smoking: quitting smoking decreases your risk
  • Alcohol consumption: avoid excessive alcohol use
  • Know your status: have a bone density test and follow the course of treatment indicated by your health care professional

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