Bone Densitometry

Your doctor may request a test to screen you for osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is low bone mass, leading to fragile bones and increased risk of fractures. It can develop in women and men as they age. Bone densitometry can measure bone mass and help assess for fracture risk. This helps your doctor determine if you need medical treatment.


How bone densitometry works.

Also called dual energy absorptiometry (DXA), it is a special form of X-ray technology. The DXA machine delivers a low dose beam of X-rays with two different energies to the bones of the lumbar spine and hips. The two different energy beams are absorbed by the bones and soft tissues and the differences in absorption allows for calculation of the bone density.

Why is my doctor requesting bone mineral densitometry for me?

Bone densitometry is done to diagnose osteoporosis. Patients at risk for osteoporosis are women and men 65 years of age or older, or younger patients with identified risk factors including history of fragility fractures, long standing use of glucocorticoids or other high risk medications, smokers and certain medical conditions.

What happens when I get bone densitometry test?

You lie on a table with the X-ray source below you and a detector is above. When the back is measured, your legs are supported on a padded box to flatten your pelvis and lower spine. When the hip is measured, your foot will be placed in a brace to rotate your hip into proper position. The detector passes slowly over during the measurement to generate the image. You must lie very still during the test. It takes about 10 to 20 minutes altogether.