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Scan could spot bone-weakening disease earlier


A new service could help 500 patients a year get treatment for the bone-weakening disease osteoporosis.

The aim is to make sure people who suffer a fracture such as a broken wrist have a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan.

This measures bone density and can pick up if a patient has osteoporosis.

Dr Peter Sheldon, a consultant rheumatologist at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, said: "Until now, patients would have their fracture treated and several years later they might, for example, break their hip and it is then discovered they have osteoporosis.

"If the condition is picked up early enough there are treatments which mean we can reduce the likelihood of further fractures by up to 50 per cent.

"Drugs won't necessarily get as much bone density back but they will help a great deal."

The Government recently included identifying osteoporosis in the national Quality Output Framework, an incentive programme under which GPs can earn more money for improving services.

Staff in the fracture clinic now look out for adult patients who come in for treatment for broken bones in their wrist or forearm – which often happens when bones are weak.

Dr Sheldon and his team then write to the patient's GP and suggests they are referred for a DXA scan.

Dr Sheldon said: "We have been checking our records since November and so far 60 people have been identified for a scan.

"I think we could pick up about 10 people a week who have, or are at risk of developing, osteoporosis.

"To make it easier for GPs, we even fill in the referral forms so they just have to sign them."

The service, run from Leicester Royal Infirmary, is costing almost nothing.

Dr Sheldon said: "The room which contained the scanning machine was already in the space where the new fracture clinic is.

"The moving of the clinic seemed like too good an opportunity to miss to set up a service which is going to benefit patients.

"The service, which was launched on Wednesday, is being tested for the first six months to see how many GPs use the it."

Scan could spot   bone-weakening disease earlier

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