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SPEARFISH | Dr. Richard Keim takes the bone density disease osteoporosis seriously, as he and the Regional Health Medical Clinic 10th Street in Spearfish introduce the latest in imaging technology to diagnose and treat the disease.

According to Regional Health, the General Electric iDXA device is the first such scanner in clinical use in South Dakota.

Keim said the $90,000 GE iDXA has been in use at the Spearfish clinic for about two months.

The low-dose x-ray scan from a 10-minute procedure produces high-resolution imaging that allows caregivers to do a more comprehensive spine analysis, including measurements of bone density to better diagnose osteoporosis and more accurately monitor patients in treatment.

“This one allows us to image their spine so much better and we can interpret those and read them so much better than we used to,” Keim said during a demonstration Tuesday in Spearfish.

“Our old technology allowed us to diagnose osteoporosis, but this new high-resolution scan gives us more information to start and monitor effective therapies,” he said in a Regional Health release.

Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become brittle from loss of tissue as a person ages, and thus more susceptible to fractures.

Causes of the disease are most often hormonal changes, such as when a woman goes through menopause, use of steroids or through deficiencies in calcium or Vitamin D.

The new scanner at the Spearfish Medical Clinic allows caregivers to precisely measure bone density to more accurately predict the risk of fracture once a baseline has been established in a patient, and also gauge the effectiveness of treatment therapies going forward.

Keim said many people suffer spine fractures without even knowing it.

“It’s estimated that only 30 percent of spine fractures come to medical attention,” he said.

“They’re either having pain and they go to the ER or we find them through other tests, such as a cat scan or chest x-ray,” he said.

Treatments for osteoporosis include oral or injectable pharmaceuticals, but non-drug therapies may include risk reduction, smoking cessation, exercises, diets for the right amount of calcium and vitamin D.

Use of other weight-bearing exercises and increasing a patient's balance is another priority.

“Fall prevention is huge,” Keim said.

Keim spent many of his formative years overseas with his family, graduating from high school in Casper, Wyo.

He earned his pre-med degree at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., and completed his residency at the University of Kansas.

“I’ve had a special interest in osteoporosis and bone densities for about 15 years,” he said.

The Spearfish location, at 1420 N. 10th St., is the first Regional Health hospital or clinic to use such a state-of-the-art technology. A similar scanner is in use for research in Sioux Falls, Keim said.

All technicians and readers are certified and the clinic also has an infusion nurse to properly administer injectable treatments.

“We were the first to come up with a program for our patients with fractures,” he said.

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