American College of Rheumatology

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Released February 21, 2013

Don’t routinely repeat DXA scans more often than once every two years.

Initial screening for osteoporosis should be performed according to National Osteoporosis Foundation recommendations. The optimal interval for repeating Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA) scans is uncertain, but because changes in bone density over short intervals are often smaller than the measurement error of most DXA scanners, frequent testing (e.g., <2 years) is unnecessary in most patients. Even in high-risk patients receiving drug therapy for osteoporosis, DXA changes do not always correlate with probability of fracture. Therefore, DXAs should only be repeated if the result will influence clinical management or if rapid changes in bone density are expected. Recent evidence also suggests that healthy women age 67 and older with normal bone mass may not need additional DXA testing for up to ten years provided osteoporosis risk factors do not significantly change.

These items are provided solely for informational purposes and are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a medical professional. Patients with any specific questions about the items on this list or their individual situation should consult their physician.

How The List Was Created

The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) established a Top 5 Task Force to oversee the creation of its recommendations. As part of this group’s work, a multistage process combining consensus methodology and literature reviews was used to arrive at the final recommendations. Items were generated by a group of practicing rheumatologists in diverse clinical settings using the Delphi method. Recommendations with high content agreement and perceived prevalence advanced to a survey of ACR members, who comprise more than 90% of the U.S. rheumatology workforce. Based on member input related to content agreement, impact and item ranking, candidate items advanced to literature review. The Top 5 Task Force discussed the items in light of their relevance to rheumatology, level of evidence to support their inclusion, and the member survey results, and drafted the final rheumatology Top 5 list. The list was reviewed by a sample of patients with rheumatic disease and approved by the ACR Board of Directors. For further details regarding these methods, please see the manuscript published in Arthritis Care & Research at

ACR’s disclosure and conflict of interest policy can be found at


Grossman JM, Gordon R, Ranganath VK, Deal C, Caplan L, Chen W, Curtis JR, Furst DE, McMahon M, Patkar NM, Volkmann E, Saag KG. American College of Rheumatology 2010 recommendations for the prevention and treatment of glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken);62(11):1515-26.

National Osteoporosis Foundation. Clinician’s guide to prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. (2010). Washington (DC); National Osteoporosis Foundation. 36p.

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for osteoporosis: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med;154(5):356-64.