Osteoporosis is a condition where bones become weak to the point of breaking. This weakening may be due to aging or caused by other factors that combine with age.
Important risk factors for osteoporosis include:
- Advanced Age
- An Existing Bone Fracture
- A Small Thin Frame
- Family History of Osteoporosis
- Removal of the Ovaries
- Early Menopause
- A Low Calcium Diet
- Lack of Exercise
- Eating disorders
- Certain Medications
(Thyroid Medications, Steroids/Prednisones, Anticonvulsants, and Anticoagulants)
- Alcohol and Tobacco Use
How does the Achilles Work?
The Achilles passes ultrasound through the heel. The heel is measured because its bone is similar to that found in the spine and hip, where osteoporotic fractures occur most. Ultrasound does not travel well through the air. Therefore, during an Achilles test, warm water fills membranes that contact your heel to provide a path for the ultrasound energy to follow. The technologist will spray your heel with alcohol just prior to the start of the test.
What can I expect during my Achilles test?
The Achilles test requires a barefoot. Remove your sock, stocking, or pantyhose. An Achilles test takes about 1 minute. During the test, keep your heel as still as possible for best results.
What information will the heel scan give my doctor?
The Achilles Heel Scanner is an aid to doctors in the diagnosis of osteoporosis. The Achilles test compares your bone quality to that of a “young adult” at peak bone strength. It also compares your results to people of your same age, called “age-matched”. This information, along with other factors, helps doctors gauge your risk of osteoporotic fracture.
Your results will be given in a “T-Score”.
World Health Organization (WHO) has developed categories that define the amount of bone loss such as:
Normal: a T-score that is above -1
Osteopenia: A T-score that is between -1 and -2.5
Osteoporosis: A T-score less than -2.5
Your T-score is one factor that your doctor will consider in making a diagnosis.
About Ultrasound Bone Density Testing
A Physicians Order is not required.
The results will be given to you at the end of the exam.
The test is not recommended for patients under 20 years of age or who have open sores on their feet or ankles.
The patient consents to take responsibility for the follow-up of abnormal results.
It is recommended that you discuss the test results with your health care provider.
Based upon your results your doctor may decide to order a DEXA scan.