The CTx blood test is designed to measure the amount of bone materials that have degraded into a person’s bloodstream. By detecting the collagen of the bone, it is most commonly used to detect the presence of osteoporosis. This usually occurs because of the natural aging process, but certain medications, and imbalance of hormones, or even something as simple as a vitamin deficiency can cause the body to being bone resorption.
Early detection of osteoporosis can help to prevent bones from becoming frail. Low bone mass is a direct risk factor for fractures and breaks. Up to 80% of bone fractures in women above the age of 50 are due to osteoporosis or a related disorder, which is why knowing about this blood test is so important.
Why Is the CTx Blood Test Important?
There are several blood tests available to measure bone density, but the CTx blood test is preferred because it offers a faster response. Some tests may take up to two years of consistent testing in order for a diagnosis to be achieved. In comparison, the CTx blood test can replicate those results within weeks. This allows for treatment plans to be more accurate.
Bone fractures can also happen at any place in the body. Instead of only measuring certain points in the body like other tests do, the CTx test evaluates the resorption rate of the entire skeleton so that an accurate diagnosis can be made. With other bone marker tests, it is possible to miss bone resorption because it occurs outside of the fixed points that the test is able to measure.
What Do My Test Results Mean?
For people who are not taking any medication for their osteoporosis, then a higher than normal level of CTx can indicate that there is a higher risk of bone fractures occurring.
For those who are just starting medication for osteoporosis, then if a 35% minimum drop in CTx numbers is achieved within the first 90 days of therapy, it is an indicator that the drug is working and will likely improve long term expectations. In some individuals, a 55% drop in CTx numbers have been documented. Improvements below 35% may also indicate progress, but require adjustment to the treatment plan.
For people who are already taking osteoporosis medications and have been doing so for some time, the CTx blood test may not be helpful. The exception here is if an oral surgery is being considered. The test can help to determine the risks of side effects that are related to the jaw bone from drugs that may be administered during the procedure.
Normal levels of bone markers indicate that there is no excessive bone turnover being experienced. Low levels are generally treated as normal levels in regards to the diagnosis of a needed therapy.
There is also some indications that a higher than normal test result could be an indication of breast or prostate cancer risk. These two cancers will commonly create bone metastases, which creates bone markers that can be measured. This could help with early cancer detection and potentially make these cancers more treatable than they already are.
How To Get a CTx Blood Test
Only a medical provider can recommend a CTx blood test. After receiving the order for the test, there will be specific instructions to follow. A blood draw is required. Depending on the medical history, a follow-up order may also be issued for a 120-150 day return for a second blood test so the CTx results can be as accurate as possible. Test results are not typically given if two samples are required until the second sample as been processed.
The issue with the CTx blood test is that bone marker concentrations can vary from day to day and may even be variable throughout the day. Most people who are experiencing bone loss have no symptoms because of their condition, a fracture is usually the first step towards a diagnosis of osteoporosis or similar condition.
It is important to note that there are no lifestyle alterations that can be made to decrease the risks of having bone loss that is associated with osteoporosis. This doesn’t mean that bone health should be ignored, but it does indicate the importance of working with a medical provider in managing bone resorption rates. Over time, the CTx blood test can give the information needed to create a viable treatment plan, but only a medical provider is qualified to interpret what specific results mean to a medical history.