The Missouri Delta Endocrine and Diabetes Center got their new state-of-the-art LUNAR densitometer in early August. "It is an X-ray machine that's attached to a computer," according to Dr. Muhannad Al-Kilani. The radiation is only around 1/200 of that from a chest X-ray, however.
Al-Kilani, in addition to being an endocrinologist-diabetologist, is a certified clinical densitometrist, according to Sharon Urhahn, director of marketing for Missouri Delta Medical Center. "He's the only one in this area that's certified to read them," she said.
With its low radiation dose, software to do pediatric age scans, and the capability to do total body scans, it is the best of its type in the area. The scanner can determine fat-lean body mass ratios and can perform lateral vertebral scans to check for deformities in the vertebrae in addition to doing conventional bone density of the hips and lumbar spine for adults.
Its primary and most important function, however, is to screen for and diagnose osteoporosis by calculating how much calcium is in the bones and comparing that information to a statistically-determined normal reference value.
"Osteoporosis itself does not kill people, but it makes them more prone to fractures," Al-Kilani said. With the bones weakened by osteoporosis, what normally would be trivial falls result in broken bones. "We call it a 'fragility fracture,'" said Al-Kilani.
Responsible for 1.3 million fractures a year in the U.S., osteoporosis is a chronic disease which affects around 20 million people, 70 percent who don't even know they have it.
Osteoporosis hits five women for every man and affects 30-50 percent of all women over the age of 50. "For women, the chances of having a fracture in your lifetime is more than the chance of having a heart attack, stroke or breast cancer combined," said Al-Kilani.
Al-Kilani said fractures can affect more than just quality of life - they can also affect your lifespan.
The chances of dying are doubled after having a hip fracture, according to Al-Kilani. He explained that at older ages, being confined to bed for a period of time because of a hip fracture can lead to life-threatening lung infections and blood clots in the lungs or legs.
Among those at high risk for osteoporosis are postmenopausal women; women over the age of 50; and those who have taken steroids for more than three months.
Kidney disease and organ transplants increase the risk of developing osteoporosis. Excessive alcohol intake or eating disorders leading to malnutrition are risk factors, too, as well as seizure medications.
One and a half inches of height loss or more is probably an indication of collapsed vertebrae, according to Al-Kilani, as are unexplained fractures or a family history of fragility fractures.
He advised anyone concerned about osteoporosis can come for a scan as a physician's referral is not necessary.
Catching the disease before a break occurs is the key. "That's the whole idea," said Al-Kilani. "There is treatment." Being scanned for osteoporosis can cut the risk of future fractures by half, he noted.
While building healthy bones with exercise and calcium with vitamin D while you are young is the most effective prevention, with medication, calcium with vitamin D, and exercise, the loss of bone mass can be halted or even partially reversed.
After about a year or more of treatment for osteoporosis, a follow-up scan can provide information on how effective the treatment is so far.
For more information call 471-4417.