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Redwood Memorial Hospital debuts new bone density machine

09/28/2009

Redwood Memorial Hospital X-ray technologist Lyne Hagan prepares to take a bone density reading.For many years, osteoporosis has been commonly linked with post-menopausal women. Today, however, the bone disease is impacting younger people of both genders due to increasingly sedentary lifestyles and poor diet.

With the need for bone density screenings on the rise, Redwood Memorial Hospital Hospital (RMH) in Fortuna announces the debut its new bone density scanner – a machine about the size of a small suitcase that uses ultrasound instead of X-ray to gauge the density of a patient’s bones.

"The fact of the matter is everyone is at risk for osteoporosis," said Dom Previte, director of Radiology at Redwood Memorial Hospital. "Our new bone density scanner will better enable us to evaluate a person’s risk for fracture."

Using ultrasound instead of X-ray, which is another common method of scanning for bone density, is preferable because it does not expose patients to any radiation. Additionally, the new bone density scanner is small and lightweight, meaning Redwood Memorial Hospital can take it to local health fairs – including the upcoming Eel River Valley Family Health & Resource Fair on Oct. 3 in Fortuna – where community residents can have bone density scans completed.

During a bone density scan, the patient simply places his or her heel comfortably on a platform on the machine. The scanner sends sound waves through the heel bone and records the amount of feedback it receives.

"The amount of feedback tells you the quality of the heel bone, which is a good representation of other bones in your body," said RMH X-ray technologist Lyne Hagan. Hagan said the heel bone is the body’s biggest piece of trabecular bone, the type of bone that also constitutes the spine and hips, which are some of the most common bones in the body to break due to osteoporosis.

Hagan was quick to point out that while RMH offers bone density scans for patients, the machine is only a screening tool, not a diagnostic tool. She recommends that anyone who gets a bone density scan follow up with their clinician or primary care provider.

Caption: Redwood Memorial Hospital X-ray technologist Lyne Hagan prepares to take a bone density reading.

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