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Heel test may predict osteoporosis risk

[Posted: Tue 24/06/2008 by Olivia Fens]

An ultrasound of the heel may help predict if a woman is at an increased risk of osteoporosis.

According to a new study, published in the Radiology journal, researchers found that ultrasounds of the heel could be used to see who was at risk of osteoporosis and would need further bone density testing.

The three-year study looked at more than 6,170 women age 70 to 85 years. The women had no previous formal diagnosis of osteoporosis and were screened with heel-bone quantitative ultrasound (QUS), a test used to assess bone density.

The researchers then added in risk factors such as age to the results of the heel-bone ultrasound to develop an estimate on the risk of fractures.

The results showed that more than 76% (1,464) of the women were considered higher risk and 23.7% were considered lower risk.

At the end of the study, 290 women (6.1%) in the higher risk group developed fractures whereas only 27 (1.8%) of the women in the lower risk group developed fractures.

Among the 66 women who developed a hip fracture, 90% were in the higher risk group.

The study’s lead author Idris Guessous, from Lausanne University Hospital in Switzerland, said osteoporosis was expected to increase as the world’s population ages and the development of strategies to better identify women who need to be tested for osteoporosis was crucial.

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