Today measuring bone mass density is standard medical procedure in the diagnosis of osteoporosis. However, these tests have only been around for approximately 25 years. In the early years, osteoporosis was a disease that was only detected after an individual suffered from a low impact or low trauma fracture. By this time the bones had already been weakened and the individual was destined to a lifetime of frailty.
In the early 1970s researchers were able to measure bone mass at the wrist only and by the mid-1980s could obtain hip and spine measurements. However, due to be radioactive source required for the test it was housed in the nuclear medicine department of hospitals.
By 1989 the current DEXA became available and replaced the need for nuclear medicine. However, since the only treatment available at the time was estrogen replacement therapy or calcitonin injections, physicians were not enthusiastic about sending patients to have their bone scan for a disease that for the most part, was being treated when women were being treated for their menopausal symptoms.