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BONE MINERAL desitometry— measuring the thickness of various parts of the human skeleton to predict the risk of fracture in persons who may have osteoporosis—was big news in the United States a few years ago. Recently, speakers at the annual meeting of the American College of Physicians (ACP) in San Francisco, Calif, estimated that few of the 800 or so of the various instruments that have been purchased for this purpose are in regular operation.
Chances are, those that aren't gathering dust until physicians know the predictive value of densitometry are being used in the two major trials now under way to determine—what is the predictive value of densitometry?
The procedure has become controversial, not because anyone thinks that measuring a man's or, much more often, a woman's bone mass will do any harm, but because there is so little consensus as to whether it will do any good.
Goldsmith MF. Does Densitometry Have a Predictive Role in Osteoporosis? Studies May Give Answer. JAMA. 1989;261(18):2598–2599. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03420180016003
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