Background: This review updates evidence since the 2002 U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation on osteoporosis screening.
Purpose: To determine the effectiveness and harms of osteoporosis screening in reducing fractures for men and postmenopausal women without known previous fractures; the performance of risk-assessment instruments and bone measurement tests in identifying persons with osteoporosis; optimal screening intervals; and the efficacy and harms of medications to reduce primary fractures.
Data Sources: Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (through the fourth quarter of 2009), MEDLINE (January 2001 to December 2009), reference lists, and Web of Science.
Study Selection: Randomized, controlled trials of screening or medications with fracture outcomes published in English; performance studies of validated risk-assessment instruments; and systematic reviews and population-based studies of bone measurement tests or medication harms.
Data Extraction: Data on patient populations, study design, analysis, follow-up, and results were abstracted, and study quality was rated by using established criteria.
Data Synthesis: Risk-assessment instruments are modest predictors of low bone density (area under the curve, 0.13 to 0.87; 14 instruments) and fractures (area under the curve, 0.48 to 0.89; 11 instruments); simple and complex instruments perform similarly. Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry predicts fractures similarly for men and women; calcaneal quantitative ultrasonography also predicts fractures, but correlation with dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry is low. For postmenopausal women, bisphosphonates, parathyroid hormone, raloxifene, and estrogen reduce primary vertebral fractures. Trials are lacking for men. Bisphosphonates are not consistently associated with serious adverse events; raloxifene and estrogen increase thromboembolic events; and estrogen causes additional adverse events.
Limitation: Trials of screening with fracture outcomes, screening intervals, and medications to reduce primary fractures, particularly those enrolling men, are lacking.
Conclusion: Although methods to identify risk for osteoporotic fractures are available and medications to reduce fractures are effective, no trials directly evaluate screening effectiveness, harms, and intervals.
Primary Funding Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.