Bone Density

What is a Bone Density test?

Bone Densitometry is a safe, low-dose x-ray procedure that assists in diagnosing low bone density. This exam estimates the amount of bone mineral content in specific areas of the body, including the spine, hip, and forearm.

This technology is called Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry or DEXA. It works by measuring the amount of x-rays that are absorbed by the bones in your body. The dual (two) x-ray energies used allow the machine to tell the difference between bone and soft tissue, giving a very accurate estimation of bone density.

What causes osteoporosis?

Bone is a living tissue that is constantly being broken down and reformed. As a person grows, bone forms faster than it breaks down until it reaches a peak bone mass between the ages of 25 and 35. Both men and women lose bone at a greater rate than it forms, causing bone loss. Women after menopause start to lose bone at a much more rapid rate than men of the same age. This rapid bone loss is usually due to a decrease in the production of the estrogen hormone. As a greater amount of bone is lost, the bones become porous and brittle. Early detection is the best way to protect against osteoporosis.

What will the exam be like?

The Bone Densitometry scan is extremely easy, safe, and painless. The individual that will be performing your study is known as a Radiologic Technologist, a person who has completed a rigorous course in Radiologic Technology and works under the supervision of the Radiologist. The technologist will assist you onto the examination table and will ask you to lie perfectly still. You will be able to breathe normally throughout the procedure. A scanner arm will pass over the area of interest, for example the lower spine or hip. The dual-energy x-ray beam will pass through your body and be measured by a detector arm.

How do I prepare for the exam?
  • There are no special requirements to have a bone density test. However, you should wear comfortable clothing.
  • Do not take any calcium supplements for 3 hours prior to the exam.
  • If you have had a recent nuclear medicine scan or any x-ray involving IV contrast or barium, allow 7 days before your bone density exam.
How long will the exam take?

Generally, the exam will take around 30 minutes.

Following the exam:

You should have no discomfort or pain from this exam. You may return to your normal daily activities.

Exam results:

A Radiologist will study the images and a typed report will be sent to your designated health care provider.

Special note:

Women should always inform their health care provider or technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant.

If you should have any questions regarding this procedure, please call 815-942-2932 ext. 7130.

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