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Radiographers could help spot best bisphosphonates candidates

Friday 25th August 2017
NICE has updated its guidance on which patients should be prescribed bisphosphonates to prevent bone fractures. Image: stockdevil via iStock
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Radiographers could play a key role in determining which patients would benefit most from drugs designed to prevent bone fractures.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published new guidance on the use of bisphosphonates, which have proved to be effective in lowering the risk of future fractures in patients with osteoporosis who have already suffered multiple fractures.

Radiographers are among the first healthcare professionals that these patients interact with when they arrive at hospital for an X-ray, so they are in a key position to identify which individuals would be most likely to benefit from bisphosphonates.

The updated guidance from NICE states that people who are deemed to have a one per cent risk of suffering a bone fracture within the next ten years should be eligible for oral bisphosphonates, such as alendronic acid, ibandronic acid and risedronate sodium, all of which could help to strengthen their bones and reduce their risk of future fractures.

Meanwhile, for those whose fracture risk is deemed to be at least ten per cent over the next decade, NICE recommends bisphosphonate injections, using drugs such as ibandronic acid and zoledronic acid.

Currently, some 300,000 people across the UK seek hospital treatment for bone fractures every year, many of whom have osteoporosis. Therefore, NICE's new guidance has the potential to reduce fracture risk for thousands of patients each year.

Women are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis than men, as weakened bones can be a side effect of the menopause.

Professor Carole Longson, director of the centre for health technology evaluation at NICE, commented: "Bone fractures because of osteoporosis can cause substantial pain and severe disability, so we're pleased to be publishing this new guidance.

"It will provide clarity for health professionals about when to start treatment with bisphosphonates and it will provide people who have osteoporosis with access to the most cost-effective treatments to prevent them getting a fracture."

Written by Megan Smith

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