OOn October 10, 2008, Dr. Lionel Gnanaraj, Medical Superintendent inaugurated the new Bone Densitometry Unit (107) of the Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism and its latest addition, a Discovery QDR-DXA scan from Hologic, USA, a high end model machine for determining the status of bones. In addition to analysing bone density, the machine can determine body composition and regional distribution of fat. It can also identify pre-existing fractures of the vertebrae.
Osteoporosis or thin bones, a condition where bone density is low and resultantly the risk of fracture high, is more commonly observed in post menopausal women (above 55 years) and men above 70 years and patients who are taking certain drugs like corticosteroids. 50% of elderly women suffer from osteoporosis, which is a silent disease that can lead to fractures. Once a fracture occurs, mobility is reduced and chances of a second fall are higher. Thus the quality of life of the elderly is affected adversely. With significant increase in the elderly population, preventing fractures and improving their quality of life has become a major health concern. Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) scan can assess the bone density. The total amount of calcium per unit of bone is called bone density. Usually DEXA scans of the lumbar spine, forearm and hip bones are done to determine the bone mass. There are very few centers in India which are using DEXA scans. The new high precision, high resolution Hologic machine has provision for fracture risk assessment. Once the diagnosis is made, patients can be evaluated for the secondary causes of osteoporosis and started on treatment which include correction of conditions which increase the risk of falls. Other measures include calcium and vitamin D supplementation and administering drugs like bisphosphonates. Dr. Thomas V. Paul, welcomed the gathering and Dr. M.S. Seshadri, Head of Endocrinology explained the various features of the new machine.