LANDOVER, Md., -- Due to high demand, Giant Foods is extending the osteoporosis bone density screenings that it began offering at 79 of its pharmacy stores in late April.
The program was originally slated to run from April 26 to the end of this month. According to Janet Tenney, the chain's manager of nutrition programs, the screenings will end "probably in July but, at this point, that's not totally determined. It depends on how many people register; they're registering every day." So far, 5,000 people have signed up for the test, she said.
Screenings are being offered at three stores in Delaware, six in southern New Jersey, 43 in Maryland, 25 in Virginia, one in Pennsylvania and one in Washington, D.C. The Pennsylvania site was added after promotion of the screenings in South Jersey reached consumers in the Keystone State, said Tenney.
SmithKline Beecham Consumer Healthcare, Pittsburgh, is administering the quick, non-invasive and painless procedure that provides information about an individual's risk for developing the disease. Bone density measurements of the heel - obtained by taking X-rays or sonograms - are being given at a cost of $35 per screening.
Giant's Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C. stores are using two types of X-ray machines, called densitometers. The New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware stores are using a slower ultrasound procedure due to X-ray regulations in these states. Screening results feed directly from these machines into a laptop, which prints out a report provided to registrants. They send the report to their doctor, who determines the need for further testing or treatment.
It was once believed the forearm was the best site for peripheral screening. Major studies, though, have shown the heel is by far the best peripheral site to scan in predicting hip fracture, according to the Lunar Corporation, Madison, Wis.
Lunar manufactures the PIXI (Peripheral Instantaneous X-ray Imager). The other X-ray machine being used, called a pDEXA (Peripheral Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) densitometer is manufactured by Norland Medical Systems, Inc., White Plains, N.Y. Hologic, Inc., of Bedford, Mass., makes the ultrasound device. SmithKline Beecham owns the equipment, Tenney said.
"Last year, we had 90% of the people who registered show up, and almost 8,000 people were screened," said Tenney.