Osteoporosis and You
Osteoporosis is when new or replacement bone doesn’t keep pace with bone loss. As a result, your bones become brittle and may break. Also known as porous bone, osteoporotic bone is spongy and full of holes. If you are older than age 50, there is a very good chance that if you fracture it will be related to osteoporosis. A bone mineral density test (DEXA) can detect osteoporosis.
Bone Density Testing
A Bone Mineral Density (BMD) test is the only way to diagnosis osteoporosis and determine your risk for future fracture. Since osteoporosis can develop undetected for decades before a fracture occurs, early diagnosis is important. A BMD measures the density of your bones (bone mass) and is necessary to determine whether you need medication to help maintain your bone mass, prevent further bone loss and reduce fracture risk.
You can schedule an appointment with a referral from your doctor, so ask him or her if you are a candidate.
The test lasts about 15 minutes and is painless. We use a small amount of radiation to measure the density of the bone in the spine and femur to check for osteoporosis. The results are sent to the referring doctor.
What can I expect during my Bone Density Test?
The bone densitometer is similar to a large examination table, padded and comfortable. Your name, age, height, weight and ethnicity are entered into a computer before the test and are used to compare your results to a reference group. You will be asked to wear comfortable clothing with no metal, belt buckles, or zippers that might show on the scan.
The operator will position your arms and legs for the test, and you will be asked to lie still on your back and breathe normally. The test is painless and typically takes 10 minutes.
Is the test safe?
Even though X-rays are used during the procedure, the body absorbs about 1/10 of the amount from a chest X-ray. The dose of radiation from the scan is comparable with the normal exposure to naturally occurring radiation throughout one week.
Caution: Even though the X-ray dose from the bone densitometer test is very low, please inform the operator before the test if you are pregnant or might be pregnant.