Monday, March 26, 2007

Using Dental X-rays to Detect Osteoporosis

Researchers in the Academic Center for Dentistry Amsterdam have created a unique way of identifying patients at risk of osteoporosis by using ordinary dental x-rays. Professor Paul F. van der Stelt and his team developed the largely automated approach to detecting the disease during a three-year, EU-funded collaboration with the Universities of Manchester, Athens, Leuven, and Malmö. They will present their findings today during the 85th General Session of the International Association for Dental Research.

In four clinical centers, 671 women with an average age of 55 years were recruited. To obtain the "gold standard", the team measured bone thickness at the femur, hip, and spine, using the technique that is common for this kind of expensive examination (Bone Mass Density, BMD). In addition, one panoramic and two intra-oral radiographs were made.

By analyzing a small area depicting the trabecular bone on the ordinary dental radiographs, dentists can predict the osteoporotic condition of the patients to the same extent as the BMD measurements.

The image analysis can be automated and does not require extra time on the part of the dentist. The newly developed technique means that patients who are identified as being at risk can be referred for more thorough appropriate examinations.

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