Bone Densitometry first facility in Texas to earn international certification

Accreditation recognizes specialized knowledge, skills and experience

ADC bone densitometry team

Bone Densitometry Staff and Physicians: Barbara Alexandre, Dr. Michele McDermott, Tony Kirkham, Dr. Mary Gasal and Peggy Jackson

ADC’s bone densitometry facility has been recognized by the International Society for Clinical Densitometry (ISCD) for exceeding standards in assessing bone health.

That means patients who visit the facility can be reassured that the doctors and staff are highly skilled and the equipment is highly accurate.

The ISCD’s accreditation program has to exceed a strict set of quality standards — it looks at everything a facility does to perform and report bone densitometry measurements.

Meeting a need

ISCD accreditation logoADC’s Bone Densitometry is an extension of the Menopause and Osteoporosis Center. Dr. Michele McDermott directs the department’s staff and operations.

Dr. McDermott was certified as a Clinical Densitometrist in 1991 and has been interpreting bone density scans for 23 years.  She had already set a high standard for ADC’s Bone Densitometry before initiating the accreditation process over a year ago.

“[The accreditation] assures referring physicians and patients that we are meeting the standards for quality bone density assessment and reporting,” said Dr. McDermott. “Accreditation of our facility indicates that our bone density measurements are accurate and precise.  Clinicians can rely on our interpretations to assist them in making the best treatment recommendation for their patients.”

The technicians in ADC’s Bone Densitometry department must be highly skilled, said Dr. Mary Gasal, board certified Obstetrics  and Gynecology specialist, because the images are used to determine a patient’s risk for fracture.

When a follow up bone density scan is performed for a patient taking medication for osteoporosis, the technician must use the exact same technique and positioning of the patient in order to provide an accurate assessment of how a patient is responding to the treatment.

“We talk with the technicians every day,” Dr. Gasal said. “They may have noticed a change in imaging; or we may request a different view. We will discuss the scans of more complicated patients, always trying to improve the quality of the report for the ordering physician.”

Accuracy and quality

Bone density tests are needed in postmenopausal woman and older men because osteoporosis is not an obvious disease.  Bone density scans inform a patient whether they have a significant risk for having a bone fracture.

“Until someone breaks a bone, they can be very asymptomatic,” Dr. Gasal said. “However, if someone has a vertebral compression fracture, their chance of a recurrence goes up four fold. There is a high mortality associated with hip fractures — not to mention the loss of one’s independence. Identifying the patient who has bone loss and would benefit from therapy will reduce these complications.”

Bone densitometry equipment

Bone densitometry equipment

Tony Kirkham, ADC Imaging Supervisor, worked with the team on the accreditation process. He said the process of accreditation took a year because of the stringent requirements to demonstrate the accuracy of the equipment.

Testing the equipment

To be accredited, ADC’s Bone Densitometry had to meet or exceed the ISCD’s acceptability standards in four areas:

  • Personnel
  • Equipment Quality Assurance and Quality Control
  • Scan Acquisition and Analysis
  • Scan Interpretation and Reporting

Kirkham says staff members had to perform more than 50 phantom screens using a water bath. Water has a known density, and by performing the phantom screens, ADC was able to show that the equipment’s readings are accurate over time.

“Patients who have osteoporosis or other disease that are controlled by certain medications have this test done every 1-2 years,” Kirkham said. “Their bone loss or growth over time is very important for physicians to know so they can adjust a patient’s treatment.”

“[The measurements] had to be within a certain parameter of known value – that way, our doctors are comfortable knowing our equipment is up to par,” Kirkham said.

Continuing quality

ADC continues to measure the accuracy of its equipment to make sure it is functioning well.

Staff members who work with the equipment and perform the tests also go through continuing education to keep up their knowledge and skills.

The ISCD has been working for more than 20 years to educate and advocate quality in bone health assessment.