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Prevention 2019 versus 2002


Are You a Savvy Patient?

    Do you get written copies or digital files of your medical reports?

    Do you research drugs and herbal products before you take them?

    Do you look for competent medical professionals who provide preventative information and explain the results of your tests?

    If youíre a savvy patient you do.

    Savvy patients realize that they need sound professional advice. They also realize that they can get better care when theyíre able to provide professionals with specific health information about themselves. Thatís one reason why they get copies of their bone density reports.

    This allows them to pass along information about their bones to orthopedists, endocrinologists, physical therapists, chiropractors, yoga teachers, personal trainers, etc. If a competent trainer or physical therapist knows the weakest areas of oneís spine or hip, they can better determine which exercises will be most beneficial. In addition, patients are more motivated to follow the advice when they see their medical data on paper and understand why they should take preventative measures.

How to Be a Savvy Patient

    If you want to avoid osteoporosis, you should learn about the disease and ways to help prevent it. You should also have some knowledge about bone density exams before youíre tested. This will better enable you to select a competent testing center that offers comprehensive reports. Besides getting a copy of the bone density report, you should seek professional guidance in understanding your test results.

    Obtaining information about bone density testing is sometimes difficult. Few patients who undergo DXA tests know the significance of their numerical results. Seldom do they receive a copy of their bone density report. Reading Osteoporosis Prevention is a good a way to start learning about osteoporosis and bone density testing. However, itís also helpful to read health magazines, journals and other books and websites. 

     If youíd like to have a bone density test of your spine and hip:

  • Find out if your insurance company or government medical plan will pay for the test. If they do, ask if a referral from your primary physician is necessary and if there are any other requirements for reimbursement. Even if your insurance or government plan pays for the bone density exam, a referral may not be needed if you are tested by a doctor. Find out beforehand. If your insurance wonít pay for a DXA test and you think it would be helpful, donít hesitate to pay for it yourself. Iíve paid for mine and I'm glad I did.

  • Make sure the test center provides thorough reports that include the densities and T-scores of different areas of the hip and each of the lumbar vertebrae that are tested. This website provides examples of different types of bone density reports. See sample reports

  • Schedule an appointment for a bone density test about a month or so before your annual physical or other doctor's appointment, if possible. That way youíll be able to get the report in time to discuss the results face-to-face with your regular doctor. Ask the center when the report will be ready. Some centers have the results ready the same day; others may take as long as a month to complete the report.

  • Review bone density terminology before the exam so that your discussion with the doctor or technologist at the center will be more meaningful. For example, reread Chapter 4, "Basic Bone Terminology" and Chapters 13 and 14 on bone density reports and testing in Osteoporosis Prevention.

  • If the center doesnít offer to show you the images of your hip and spine on the monitor, ask to see them. Itís helpful to visually see your areas of high and low densities. One advantage of being tested by an osteoporosis specialist is that he or she can explain the images and give you information that you canít get from a book or from a general physician who hasnít studied bone densitometry.

  • Find out when the written report will be completed, and ask for two copies of itóone for your regular doctor and one for yourself. The two reports should be originals from the densitometer so the images of your spine and hip are as clear as possible. Some test centers are able to give you the report at the time of the test or a CD file of the results. Now that reimbursements for bone density tests or so low, you may have to pay for the disc or report copy. Some test centers may be able to e-mail you the results.

  • Study the report before you see your general physician. After you read it, you may have questions that were not answered at the test center. Take the report with you to your doctor so you can make notes on it.

  • Write down any questions you may have in the order of their importance. Otherwise you may forget some of them, or you may waste valuable time on unimportant matters during your appointment. Time will be limited

  • If you have osteoporosis, get a referral to a physical therapist with a specialty in osteoporosis from your regular doctor (or the osteoporosis specialist if you saw one). Proper exercise is one of the most important means of treatment and prevention, but some exercises are better and safer than others. Youíll need to do more than walk. Physical therapy is typically covered by insurance and government medical plans, but check first to see if itís included in your plan. You or your doctor may have to do some research to find a therapist who has been trained to treat osteoporosis patients, but itís worth it to locate one.

  • In general, take responsibility for your health instead of expecting the medical profession to be entirely in charge of your health care.

For more information consult:

Osteoporosis Prevention: A Proactive Approach to Strong Bones & Good Health


Webpages with sample reports:

GE DXA Bone Density Report

GE DXA Body Composition Report

Hologic DXA Bone Density Report

Hologic DXA Body Composition Report

Spine TBS Report

Mindways QTC Bone Density Report

General Sample Reports Web Page

Conversion Tables

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Copyright 2006 and 2014 by Renťe Newman