When is bone mineral density (BMD) measurement indicated for screening and diagnosis of osteoporosis?

Updated: Jan 20, 2021
  • Author: Rachel Elizabeth Whitaker Elam, MD, MSc; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Bone mineral density (BMD) measurement is recommended in the following patients [4] :

  • Women age 65 years and older and men age 70 years and older, regardless of clinical risk factors
  • Postmenopausal women and men above age 50–69, younger postmenopausal women and women in menopausal transition based on risk factor profile
  • Postmenopausal women and men age 50 and older who have had an adult-age fracture, to diagnose and determine the degree of osteoporosis
  • Adults with a condition (eg, rheumatoid arthritis) or taking medication (eg, glucocorticoids in a daily dose ≥5 mg prednisone or equivalent for ≥3 months) associated with low bone mass or bone loss

Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) is currently the criterion standard for the evaluation of BMD. [5, 6] Peripheral DXA is used to measure BMD at the wrist; it may be most useful in identifying patients at very low fracture risk who require no further workup.

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