A new test of bone thickness can predict whether or not a woman is likely to experience vertebral fractures in the next 15 years, according to researchers.
The study, which is detailed in the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows that bone mineral density (BMD) is a measure of bone thickness which can be determined by special x-rays and ultrasounds.
Osteoporosis is characterised by low BMD.
Throughout the study 2,680 female patients were tested and it was found that the risk of fracture was more than 50 per cent for those with a prior fracture or low BMD, while the risk was approximately 9 per cent for those without either factor.
Dr Jane Cauley, who led the study, said: "We found that a single bone density measurement accurately predicted the likelihood of who would have a spine fracture within a 15 year period."
The researchers concluded that women with a prior vertebral fracture should be treated for osteoporosis respective of BMD.
According to the national Osteoporosis Society, one in two women in the UK over the age of 50 suffers from osteoporosis.
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