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What is Bone Densitometry?

Bone density is a medical term referring to the amount of mineral matter per square centimeter of bones. Bone density is used as an indirect indicator of osteoporosis and fracture risk. It is measured by a procedure called densitometry, using an advanced technology called DEXA (short for dual-energy x-ray absorpitometry). DEXA safely, accurately and painlessly measures bone mineral density and can be used to evaluate future risk of bone fracture and osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease that gradually weakens bones, leading to bone fragility and an increased chance of fractures to the spine, hips and wrists. Often called the "silent disease," osteoporosis rarely shows symptoms until a lot of bone mass has been lost. DEXA scanning can identify low bone density in patients at an early age, enabling doctors to prescribe treatment before the condition worsens. The test results are then read thoroughly and interpreted by our radiologist.

 

Who Needs Bone Denistometry?

While the osteoporosis can affect both men and women, 80% of those affected are women. In fact, an estimated 8 million Americans have osteoporosis and an additional 27 million will have low bone mass. Women have a higher risk for osteoporosis than men because women often have smaller, thinner frames. In addition, menopause causes women to produce less estrogen, a hormone that helps protect them against bone loss; 20% of bone mass can be lost in the 5-7 years following menopause. If you're nearing menopause, your doctor or health care professional can give you good advice to help you avoid future problems with osteoporosis. If you are post-menopausal, stay in touch with our doctor to monitor your bone health on a regular basis. If you don't know if have osteoporosis, ask whether a bone density test is right for you. Your doctor will need to refer you for this exam. For your convenience, Bone density exams can be scheduled along with your mammogram appointment.

Risk Factors for Osteoporosis

  • Post-menopausal Female
  • Caucasian or Asian
  • Advanced age
  • History of bone fracture
  • Small, thin frame
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Low calcium diet
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Eating disorders
  • Abnormal absence of menstrual periods
  • Certain medicines (such as steroids and anticonvulsants)
  • Alcohol or tobacco use

Tips

Wear comfortable clothing that has no metal zippers or buttons from the waist down to eliminate metal artifacts.
Please let us know before your exam begins if you may be pregnant.
Let the technologist know if you have had a barium study exam in the last 14 days.