What is the accuracy of plain radiography for the diagnosis of osteoporosis?

Updated: Sep 26, 2019
  • Author: Monique Bethel, MD; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Answer

Plain radiography is not as accurate as BMD testing. Because osteoporosis predominantly affects trabecular bone rather than cortical bone, radiography does not reveal osteoporotic changes until they affect the cortical bone. Cortical bone is not affected by osteoporosis until more than 30% of bone loss has occurred. Approximately 30-80% of bone mineral must be lost before radiographic lucency becomes apparent on radiographs. [105] Thus, plain radiography is an insensitive tool for diagnosing osteoporosis.


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