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ENDO: Male Patients Under-Tested for Osteoporosis

Study suggests that many veterans aren't getting recommended bone mineral density tests

MONDAY, June 26 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. physicians who treat elderly male patients aren't meeting Medicare guidelines, which recommend bone mineral density testing if there are vertebral abnormalities indicative of osteoporosis, osteopenia or vertebral fracture; or International Society for Clinical Densitometry (ISCD) guidelines, which recommend bone mineral density testing for all men age 70 and over, according to research at a Veterans Administration hospital presented this week at ENDO 2006, the Endocrine Society's annual meeting in Boston.

Aaron Benjamin, M.D., of The Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago, and colleagues reviewed medical records of 112 male patients -- 37 of them over age 70 and 22 over age 80 -- who had lumbar spine X-rays for clinical indications such as back pain or discomfort.

The researchers found that 17 patients had radiology reports satisfying Medicare criteria for bone mineral density testing, but that only eight of them underwent dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). They also found that an additional 23 patients satisfied the ISCD criteria for bone mineral density testing, but that only five of them underwent DXA.

"These results suggest that physicians under-utilize both bone mineral density testing and osteoporosis treatment of males in the VA system where the evaluation and treatment of osteoporosis is independent of socioeconomic status," the authors conclude. "Methods to increase compliance with current recommendations for osteoporosis management in men need to be explored."

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