Osteoporosis Screening Rate Was 'Unacceptably Low' in Men

Osteoporosis screening for bone mineral density after a wrist fracture was less common in men than women

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Older men and their doctors might not be too concerned about osteoporosis, but new research suggests they may need to reconsider the issue.

The study found that men over the age of 50 were much less likely than women to receive osteoporosis screening following a bone fracture.

In osteoporosis, the body is unable to keep up with the production of new bone tissue, causing the bones to become fragile and weak. The condition often results in easily broken or fractured bones, called "fragility fractures."

According to the authors of this new study, which was led by Carl M. Harper, MD, of the Harvard Combined Orthopedic Residency in Boston, osteoporosis is often thought of in terms of older, female patients, leading to some concerns about possible underdiagnosis in men.

As the US population ages, issues with fragile bones among people of both genders are only expected to increase, Dr. Harper and colleagues noted.

To study the issue, the researchers reviewed the medical records of patients at a Boston medical center between 2007 and 2012. They identified 95 men and 344 women who were older than 50 and were treated for a distal radial fracture — a common fragility fracture of the wrist.

Dr. Harper and team wanted to see whether these patients received bone mineral density testing through a procedure called a dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan. DXA scans use X-rays to measure bone density and test for osteoporosis.

The research team found that men were much less likely to be scanned for osteoporosis than women. While 53 percent of the women had a DXA scan after their wrist fracture, the same was true for only 18 percent of the men.

Of the 17 men who had a DXA scan, nine were eventually diagnosed with osteoporosis. Of the 184 women who had a scan, 65 were diagnosed.

The researchers did find that the men tended to have less severe fractures than the women, which could have played a role in the results.

However, Dr. Harper and colleagues called the rates of osteoporosis screening for men seen in this study "unacceptably low" based on current guidelines. Further research is needed to examine the issue at more health centers across the country, the authors noted.

The study was published Nov. 5 in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.

The authors disclosed no funding sources or conflicts of interest.


Review Date: 
November 4, 2014
Last Updated:
November 6, 2014