Referral pattern for DXA scanning in a tertiary care centre from southern India
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Referral patterns for bone mineral density testing by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scanning are seldom studied. In our study, the overall proportion of referrals from specialties remained low. This highlights the need for adequate utilisation of DXA by specialties treating subjects at risk for osteoporosis.
The knowledge of referral patterns for DXA scanning (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) for bone mineral density (BMD) measurement is relevant in a developing country like India. We studied the referral source and clinical and densitometric profile of patients referred for DXA scanning at a south Indian tertiary care centre.
We conducted a cross-sectional study over 3 months and included subjects referred during this period for BMD assessment (lumbar spine and femoral neck) by DXA scan. Details regarding referring departments and reasons for referral were collected. The number of patients seen in individual departments was obtained during the study period and respective proportions of patients referred were calculated.
Of the 1932 subjects included in the study, we observed a definite female preponderance (90.2%), with a mean (SD) age of 51.6 (13.3) years. The greatest number of referrals came from the departments of rheumatology (37%; n = 724) and endocrinology (20%; n = 382). Overall, 36% were referred for inflammatory arthritis or systemic inflammatory disorders (n = 696) and 34% for postmenopausal state screening (n = 657). In relation to the individual outpatient strength, the departments who referred the highest proportion of their patients were rheumatology (6.8%), endocrinology (1.76%) and geriatrics (1.05%). A diagnosis of osteoporosis at any one site was made in 41% (448 of 1107) and the BMD was below the expected range for age in 37% (304 of 825) of the referrals.
Most referrals for DXA scanning were from rheumatology. Among the referred patients, about two fifth had osteoporosis and over one third had BMD below expected range for age. Although referrals by rheumatology were relatively higher, overall referrals from all departments remained low. This underscores the need for adequate utilisation of DXA by specialties treating subjects at risk for osteoporosis.
KeywordsDXA referral Osteoporosis Southern India BMD
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflicts of interest
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