UNM Carrie Tingley Hospital's Dr. Elizabeth Szalay Earns Certification in Bone Density Testing for Osteoporosis

The International Society for Clinical Densitometry (ISCD) has announced that Dr. Elizabeth Szalay, associate professor of orthopaedics for UNM Carrie Tingley Hospital, has recently attended the ISCD's Bone Densitometry Course and has been recognized as a Certified Clinical Densitometrist (CCE). She has taken the ISCD Bone Densitometry Course and passed a rigorous exam on bone density testing for osteoporosis. There are over 5,000 certified clinicians and technologists worldwide. Certification in bone densitometry is a demonstration of proficiency and is a requirement for some insurance companies and HMO's.

Osteoporosis, a bone fragility disorder that can lead to fracture, is a disease that affects 44 million Americans, causing 1.5 million fractures each year, with an annual healthcare cost of about $17 billion. Osteoporotic fractures can result in chronic pain, disability, loss of independence and even management. Bone density is easily measured with an instrument called a bone densitometer, using DEXA (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) technology. With medications now available and under development, experts feel that osteoporosis is a preventable and treatable disease.

Dr. Szalay is focusing on bone loss in children, which is not limited to children with chronic health problems. Only 10 percent of girls and 25 percent of boys consume the recommended 1200 to 1500 mg of dietary calcium daily. The lack of calcium intake in children can lead to painful fractures, abnormal growth and deformities that may require extensive reconstructive surgery. 

Treating children is not the same as treating adults with low bone density. "Medications such as bisphosphorates, which have shown excellent results in improving bone density in adults, have shown promise in early studies in children, but further research cannot be done until we are better able to monitor the effects of such medications on bone density and bone growth in children," Szalay said.

The Children's Miracle Network generously supported this program by purchasing a DEXA machine and other equipment necessary to study bone density in children. The DEXA machine releases one tenth of the radiation than that of an X-Ray machine. This bone density testing machine is the only machine in Albuquerque that concentrates on what is normal measurement of mineral content in bone in children of different ages. "The ‘child friendly' bone densitometry center with protocols specifically designed to study special needs children, will allow us to identify children who are at risk and monitor their treatment," Szalay said.

Carrie Tingley Hospital has a legacy of more than sixty years of commitment to New Mexico's children and their families.  Located in Albuquerque, it is one of five hospitals in the Clinical Operations family of the Health Sciences Center at the University of New Mexico.   CTH provides caring and coordinated healthcare to children and adolescents with complex musculoskeletal and orthopaedic conditions, rehabilitation needs, developmental issues and long-term physical disabilities.

ISCD is a nonprofit professional society of over 4,000 clinician and technologists members from more that 40 countries. ISCD is dedicated to improving the quality of bone density testing for osteoporosis, educating healthcare providers, increasing patient awareness and supporting scientific advances. The proliferation of new technologies for measuring bone density, combined with the development of improved treatments for osteoporosis, has created great demand for the education and certification of healthcare providers.

Contact: Jennifer Riordan, 272-3322

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