CT colonography (so-called virtual colonoscopy or CTC) can also detect osteoporosis during colorectal cancer screening. Using the same images obtained while looking for colorectal polyps, a different software program can examine the spine for bone mineral density. Low bone mineral density is a symptom of osteoporosis which increases risk for broken bones.
Bone mineral density is normally measured with dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scans. Research presented during the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) annual meeting found excellent agreement between bone mineral density scores on CTC and DEXA scans. Two different radiologists analyzed scores from CTC for 35 patients at the San Francisco Veterans Administration Hospital and compared them to DEXA tests.
Lead author Rizwan Aslam, M.B.Ch.B., assistant clinical professor of radiology at the University of California San Francisco said,
CT colonography isn’t a replacement for DEXA testing, but it could be a way to screen more people for osteoporosis. When an individual undergoes CT colonography, we can also obtain a bone density measurement with no additional radiation and at minimal cost.
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) says that 10 million Americans over age 50 have osteoporosis. Another 34 million Americans are at risk of developing osteoporosis due to low bone mass. One out of every two women and one in four men over 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime.
Detecting osteoporosis early provides for early intervention and treatment to reduce fracture risk.