Mount Zion Revamps Osteoporosis Center

April 20, 2000
News Office: Leslie Harris (415) 885-7277

Please note, as of March 2009, the Osteoporosis Center at UCSF Medical Center at Mount Zion closed its clinical services; however, research services will still be available. For patients needing bone density scans (DXA hip and spine), please contact the Outpatient Radiology clinic at (415) 353-2666. For more information about research services, call (415) 476-6686.

UCSF Medical Center at Mount Zion has revamped its Osteoporosis Center on the fourth floor of the Hellman Building, complete with a state-of-the-art digital scanner for diagnosis of the disease that strikes millions of people across the country.

The center's physician team started seeing patients on a referral basis this week, using a new high-tech tool that provides bone density measurements and an instant vertebral assessment for a more accurate determination of fracture risk. Eventually, the clinic will provide the community the opportunity to participate in research studies to improve methods of treatment and prevention of osteoporosis.

"I am very enthusiastic about the improvements we are making to the Osteoporosis Center at Mount Zion," said Dr. Deborah Sellmeyer, an endocrinologist at UCSF Medical Center and an assistant adjunct professor of medicine. "We have improved every aspect of the center -- from scheduling to equipment to reports -- and plan to make continued improvements over the months to come. We are pleased to be able to provide high-quality bone density scans and a pleasant clinic experience for the community."

With its upgraded bone density equipment and a new location in the Mount Zion endocrine clinical suite, the center will expand the type of services and convenience for both patients and referring physicians, Sellmeyer said.

"Osteoporosis and fractures are an important health issue, particularly for older women," Sellmeyer said. "Bone densitometry can help identify women at risk for fractures so that therapies to treat osteoporosis and prevent fractures can be started."

The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that all women over the age of 65 and postmenopausal women under 65 who have one or more risk factors for developing the disease should have their bone density measured. Risk factors include having a thin or small frame, advanced age, family history of osteoporosis and a diet low in calcium.

More than 10 million people in the United States suffer from osteoporosis, 80 percent who are women, according to the foundation. The disease is characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue, which leads to bone fragility and increased risk of debilitating fractures to the hip, spine and wrist.

The center is the culmination of efforts to reorganize and revamp the osteoporosis practice that had been at Mount Zion for several years. It is part of UCSF Medical Center's overall strategy to rebuild Mount Zion into a center for outpatient services that includes cancer care, urgent care, outpatient surgery, 23-hour observation unit and sleep disorders center, to name a few.

"Opening this center is a tremendous show of UCSF's intention to provide services that will benefit the community and beyond," said Cyndy Hayashi, clinical manager of the center.

Hayashi, who has 20 years experience in specialized bone radiology and bone densitometry, said the center offers patients the latest in bone-scanning technology, including a Delphi scanner that delivers fast, high-resolution images with great precision and low radiation dose. Manufactured by Hologic of Beford, Mass., the equipment detects spine and hipbone density in about 15 seconds each and scans the entire body in less than three minutes, Hayashi said.

In addition, the machine can produce a lateral spine scan that can detect vertebral fractures at a fraction (1/80th) of the radiation exposure of a conventional radiograph and in 10 seconds. The advantage of this feature is that it enables clinicians to perform a rapid, low-dose evaluation of the vertebrae in a single office visit, during a routine bone density exam, Hayashi said. The presence of a vertebral fracture, combined with bone density measurement, improves the estimation of future fracture risk.

The center will also be equipped with a small portable ultrasound scanner for bone density measurements of the heel, which gives an indication of a patient's long-term risk for fractures. The center will offer a free ultrasound of the heel during the month of May for all patients who come to the center for central measurements.

Sellmeyer, who has been board certified in bone densitometry by the International Society for Clinical Densitometry, will be interpreting the bone density scans at the center. In the future, the center will provide online reports to referring physicians and will develop a patient database for research recruitment and data analysis.

The center's team of doctors include includes Dr. Fred Cohen, chief of endocrinology and metabolism at UCSF Medical Center, and Dr. Ken Woeber, UCSF professor in residence and vice chair of the department of medicine.

To contact the Osteoporosis Center for research services, please call (415) 476-6686.