Bone densitometry

Overview

A bone densitometry test is used to diagnose osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become fragile and brittle. This testing technique assesses the bone mass of bones in your spine, pelvis, forearm and thigh. It reveals bone density and mineral content. Typically, this test is used to identify if you are at a heightened risk for fractures. The test, which is conducted much like an X-ray, takes about 10 to 30 minutes. 

Reasons for treatment

Your doctor may suggest a bone densitometry if any of the following factors apply to you:

  • 65 years or older
  • High-risk for osteoporosis
  • Post-menopausal
  • Smoker
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Past hip fractures
  • Use of certain medications, such as steroids
  • Use of medications that affect your hormones
  • Low estrogen levels
  • Low body weight 

Risks

While there aren’t specific risks related to the bone densitometry test, as radiation doses used are low, there are risks to the treatment of osteoporosis. Some side effects of common medication used to treat this disease include cracks in the femur (thighbone), bone loss in the jaw and heart rhythm issues. Our specialists are thorough in their evaluations for osteoporosis and go above and beyond to rule out other complications before initiating treatment. 

Preparing for treatment

A bone densitometry requires little preparation on your part. These tests are fast and painless. Try to avoid wearing clothes with zippers or snaps, as metal can interfere with the imaging process. In addition, be sure to inform your physician of any recent exams, such as a nuclear medicine test, because they may distort your results. 

What to expect after treatment

Your test will be thoroughly examined by your physician, who will then explain the results to you in full detail. In addition, your doctor will walk you through any necessary lifestyle changes, such as eating routines, exercise plans and vitamin intake. 

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