A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that repeating a bone mineral density test after four years does little to help predict which elderly patients without osteoporosis are at increased risk of fracture. Researchers studied 492 women and 310 men from the Framingham Osteoporosis Study who had a baseline BMD test from 1987 to 1991 when they were about 75 years old and a repeat BMD test four years later. During approximately 10 years of follow-up, 113 patients had a hip or major osteoporotic fracture, but the second BMD measure improved clinicians' ability to reclassify a patient as "high risk" by only about 4%. The authors conclude that repeat BMD testing may not be necessary as it provides little information beyond the baseline BMD assessment and consideration of clinical characteristics such as weight or smoking status. They note that Medicare reimburses for BMD screening every two years no matter what result was found in the baseline test. Read the article.

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