What is involved in a bone density test

what is involved in a bone density test
Bone is a living tissue and is constantly being remodeled. Am I Having a Heart Attack? There are two major types of bone.

And, it takes about 10 to 15 minutes, very low radiation, much, much less, you know, than a chest x-ray. And uh, it's pretty easy and pretty safe. What about these little tiny ankle testing things? Well, as screening tools, there are ways of measuring bone density at other skeletal sites, such as the heel, and I think those kinds of tests are great in elderly people.

Bone Density Exam/Testing

Because if you're low at the heel when you're elderly, the odds are, you're really low in general. Any skeletal site that's low is a clue that you have somewhat increased risk for fracture. A bone density test tells you if you have normal bone density, low bone density osteopenia or osteoporosis.

what is involved in a bone density test

It is the only test that can diagnose osteoporosis. The lower your bone density, the greater your risk of breaking a bone.

Who should get a bone density test?

A bone density test can help you and your healthcare provider:. NOF recommends a bone density test of the hip and spine using a central DXA machine to diagnose osteoporosis. In some cases, the type of bone density testing equipment used depends on what is available in your community.

Healthcare providers measure bone density in the hip and spine for several reasons. First, people with osteoporosis have a greater chance of fracturing these bones. Second, broken bones in the hip and spine can cause more serious problems, including longer recovery time, greater pain and even disability. Bone density in the hip and spine can also predict the likelihood of future breaks in other bones.

With most types of bone density tests, a person remains fully dressed, but you do need to make sure no buttons or zippers are in the way of the area to be scanned. The test usually takes less than 15 minutes. Bone density tests are non-invasive and painless. This means that no needles or instruments are placed through the skin or body. A central DXA uses very little radiation. You are actually exposed to 10—15 times more radiation when you fly roundtrip between New York and San Francisco.

Bone Mineral Density Test

When repeating a bone density test, it is best to use the same testing equipment and have the test done at the same place each time. This provides a more accurate comparison with your last test result. Although it is not always possible to have your bone density test at the same place, it is still important to compare your current bone density scores to your previous scores.

Few patients, such as patients on high dose steroid medication, may need follow-up at six months. A radiologista physician specifically trained to supervise and interpret radiology examinations, will analyze the images and send a signed report to your primary care or referring physicianwho will discuss the results with you.

DEXA scans are also interpreted by other physicians such as rheumatologists and endocrinologists. A clinician should review your DEXA scan while assessing the presence of clinical risk factors such as:. T score — This number shows the amount of bone you have compared with a young adult of the same gender with peak bone mass.

A score above -1 is considered normal.

Bone Densitometry (DEXA)

A score between -1 and A score below The T score is used to estimate your risk of developing a fracture. Z score — This number reflects the amount of bone you have compared with other people in your age group and of the same size and gender. If this score is unusually high or low, it may indicate a need for further medical tests. Small changes may normally be observed between scans due to differences in positioning and usually are not significant.

what is involved in a bone density test

Special care is taken during x-ray examinations to use the lowest radiation dose possible while producing the best images for evaluation. National and international radiology protection organizations continually review and update the technique standards used by radiology professionals.

Modern x-ray systems have very controlled x-ray beams and dose control methods to minimize stray scatter radiation. This ensures that those parts of a patient's body not being imaged receive minimal radiation exposure.

what is involved in a bone density test

Some imaging tests and treatments have special pediatric considerations. Please contact your physician with specific medical questions or for a referral to a radiologist or other physician. To locate a medical imaging or radiation oncology provider in your community, you can search the ACR-accredited facilities database.

This website does not provide cost information. The costs for specific medical imaging tests, treatments and procedures may vary by geographic region.

Web page review process: This Web page is reviewed regularly by a physician with expertise in the medical area presented and is further reviewed by committees from the American College of Radiology ACR and the Radiological Society of North America RSNAcomprising physicians with expertise in several radiologic areas. For the convenience of our users, RadiologyInfo. RadiologyInfo respects your privacy. Information entered here will not be used for any purpose other than this referral. What are some common uses of the procedure? How should I prepare? What does the equipment look like?

what is involved in a bone density test

How does the procedure work? A small, portable machine can measure bone density in the bones at the far ends of your skeleton, such as those in your finger, wrist or heel. The instruments used for these tests are called peripheral devices, and are often found in pharmacies. Tests of peripheral bone density are less expensive than are tests done on central devices. Because bone density can vary from one location in your body to another, a measurement taken at your heel usually isn't as accurate a predictor of fracture risk as a measurement taken at your spine or hip.

Consequently, if your test on a peripheral device is positive, your doctor might recommend a follow-up scan at your spine or hip to confirm your diagnosis. Mayo Clinic does not endorse companies or products.


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