How is the VirtuOst test different from a BMD test? Non-invasive measurements of bone strength have been used extensively in research studies and are based on well established engineering principles. These strength measurements are now available clinically for patients via the VirtuOst test. Known as finite element analysis, the core technology in the VirtuOst test performs a virtual stress test on your bone, providing a measurement of its breaking strength. Using this test, it is possible to identify some patients who do not have BMD-defined osteoporosis but who are nonetheless at high risk of fracture. This is because the virtual stress testing accounts not only for how much bone mass you have, but also for a variety of structural factors that can influence the strength of your bones — such as their size, shape, and internal composition. The VirtuOst test also provides the clinical-standard BMD measurements. So if the test indicates that you have very low levels of BMD at the hip or spine, you have osteoporosis. And if you have very low levels of bone strength, you have fragile bone strength. In either case, you are classified as being at high risk of a fragility fracture.
Why should I get the VirtuOst test? Your risk of fracture can be reduced by over 50% if you take preventative steps, starting with knowing if you are at high risk of fracture. BMD testing is recommended for all women over age 65, all men over age 70, and younger women and men depending on various risk factors. But most people do not bother to go for a BMD test. Many choose to avoid the inconvenience of having to schedule and take a dedicated BMD scan. Others choose to avoid the additional radiation, however minor, from such a test. The VirtuOst test was designed to address both these concerns. Importantly, it can be applied to a pre-existing CT scan (aka a "CAT" scan, see examples below). Therefore, if you have had a recent CT scan, you do not need to undergo any more tests or procedures to receive the VirtuOst bone assessment. Also, the VirtuOst test provides measurements of both BMD and bone strength. This results in a more comprehensive assessment of your bones than the typical clinical test, which only provides measurements of BMD.
How can I get the VirtuOst test? The test needs to be ordered by a physician and requires a CT scan that includes coverage of your hip and/or spine. Usually, the test is applied to a CT scan that you have already had for some other medical reason. For example, you may have had an abdomen or pelvic or chest or spine CT to determine a source of pain. Or perhaps a spine CT to plan for a spine surgery, or a pelvic or abdomen CT scan to monitor a condition or treatment. The CT scan is sent to O.N. Diagnostics for analysis and a medical report is sent back the next day or earlier to the ordering physician. VirtuOst is currently being offered at select medical centers in the United States and will be more widely available in the near future.