CT scans have become an everyday part of medicine. They are one of the single most important advances in medicine in the past 50 years. But recently, scientists have discovered that we have been missing some important information that these scans can give us.
To do the study, researchers looked at the chest and abdominal CT scans of 507 men and women. These CT scans were performed for all kinds of different reasons. But the researchers were not interested in why they were performed. They were simply interested in what the scans could tell them about the bone health of the patients getting the scans. So, to assess bone health, using the images on their CT scans, they measured the bone density of the first lumbar vertebra. And then they followed up on the patients over an average of 5.8 years to see who developed an osteoporosis-related fracture. What they found was fascinating.
The greater the bone density on the first lumbar vertebra, the less likely the patient was to have a fracture. And the findings were regardless of age, sex, prior fracture, glucocorticoid use, bisphosphonate use, chronic kidney disease, tobacco use, ethanol abuse, cancer history, or rheumatoid arthritis. Specifically, patients with a low density reading (L1attenuation values =90 Hounsfield units) were 37% more likely to have a fracture than those with a higher reading.
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According to senior author Dr. Perry J. Pickhardt, of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine & Public Health, "CT scans are commonly performed in older adults for a wide variety of reasons. The rich bone data embedded in these scans is often ignored, but can and should be harnessed for opportunistic screening for fracture risk."
So, if you have had a CT scan in the past for any reason, ask your doctor to request that the scan be re-evaluated for the first lumbar attenuation value. If it's greater than 90 Hounsfield units, you are much less likely to have a fracture from osteoporosis. But if it's less than 90 Hounsfield units, start taking precautions now. The most important things to do to strengthen your bones are regular weight bearing exercise (especially Power Plate), hormone replacement, and vitamin D.
After that I recommend Ultimate Bone Support. Take two to four tablets a day for extra protection. If you are about to get a CT scan for any reason, make sure your doctor requests that information.
And don't forget to take 300 mg of melatonin two hours before the scan. This will protect you from the very high doses of ionizing radiation that go along with CT scans. The easiest way to do that is to take five capsules (300 mg) of Melatonin Max (www.perfectvitaminproducts.com).
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
Scott J Lee, Peter M Graffy, Ryan D Zea, Timothy J Ziemlewicz, Perry J Pickhardt. Future Osteoporotic Fracture Risk Related to Lumbar Vertebral Trabecular Attenuation Measured at Routine Body CT. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, 2018.