Bone Mineral Density Tests: What The Numbers Mean

bone density results

A bone density test is an imaging test that measures the strength of your bones. It uses X-rays to measure how much calcium and other minerals are in your bones. In general, the risk for bone fracture doubles with every SD below normal. Thus, a person with a BMD of 1 SD below normal (T-score of -1) has twice the risk for bone fracture as a person with a normal BMD. When this information is known, people with a high risk for bone fracture can be treated with the goal of preventing future fractures.

Be sure to tell your doctor beforehand if you’ve recently had a barium exam or had contrast material injected for a CT scan or nuclear medicine test. Contrast materials might interfere you can try these out with your bone density test. DEXA scans offer a high degree of precision and accuracy. Medical experts consider DEXA scans to be an accurate test for diagnosing osteoporosis.

You might be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds to ensure a clear image. The test takes between minutes, depending on the device used and the body area being scanned. If you are a woman in postmenopause or a man who is age 50 or older, your bone mineral density test result will be a T-score. For more information on bone health, visit the National Osteoporosis Foundation’s General Facts page. Bone density tests are usually done on bones in the spine (vertebrae), hip, forearm, wrist, fingers and heel. You won’t feel any pain or have any side effects from a bone density test.

bone density results

If you have your bone density test done at a hospital, it’ll probably be done on a device where you lie on a padded platform while a mechanical arm passes over your body. The amount of radiation you’re exposed to is very low, much less than the amount emitted during a chest X-ray. Medical experts recommend more info avoiding all radiation exposure during pregnancy to protect the developing fetus. Tell your provider if you’re pregnant or think you might be pregnant. Professionals certified to interpret DEXA images will review your results and write a report that will be sent to your healthcare provider.

Two very low-dose X-ray beams pass through your body’s tissue to determine how dense and strong your bones are. Some people with arthritis may need a bone density test to look at how being on steroids has affected their bones. Additionally, people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are at a higher risk for developing osteoporosis from chronic inflammation and other complex mechanisms.

The detector above will pass over your body, and the X-ray generator will go under you. Once you have checked in and completed the admission paperwork, you will be taken to an exam room. Your personal items will be put in a safe place (like a locker) while you are having source the test. You must bring proof of identification and your health insurance card to the appointment. You will be able to drive yourself home after the test, so you don’t need to bring someone with you. The central DEXA is located in a room with a large table.

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