Are you a postmenopausal woman or a man age 50 or older? Have you recently broken a bone? If you answered “yes” to both questions, you should talk to your doctor or other healthcare provider about getting a bone density test if you’ve never had one.
WHAT IS IT?
A Bone Density test is a test to determine whether you have osteoporosis or you are at risk of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become more fragile and more likely to break. A bone density test can confirm that you have a low bone density, but it can’t tell you why. To answer that question, you need a complete medical evaluation, including history and physical. This information can help your doctor better interpret the results of your test.
A Bone Density test uses x-rays to measure how much calcium and other bone minerals are packed into a segment of bone. The higher your bone content, the denser your bones are. And the denser your bones, the stronger they generally are and the less likely to break. A bone density test is a safe and painless test. During the test, you will be asked to lie on your back and be very still for 20 minutes. A small scanning arm will run over your body during the scan. After the test, the machine will print out a report that your doctor will review.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends Bone Density testing if:
- You are a women age 65 or older
- You are a post-menopausal woman under age 65 with one or more risk factors for osteoporosis
- You are a man aged 70 or older
- You are a man between age 50 and 69 with one or more risk factors for osteoporosis
- You break a bone after the age of 50
- You are a woman of menopausal age with risk factors
A bone density test may also be necessary if you have any of the following:
- an X-ray of your spine showing a break or bone loss in your spine
- back pain with possible fracture in your spine
- height loss of ½ inch or more within one year
- total height loss of 1 ½ inches from your original height
Osteoporosis Risk Factors:
- Getting older, which increases your risk of osteoporosis because bones become weaker as you age.
- Low body weight or under 125lbs. if you are of average height
- a personal history of fractures after age 40
- a parental history of osteoporosis or hip fractures
- using certain medications that can cause bone loss, especially steroids
HOW DO I PREPARE FOR THE TEST?
Make sure you wear a 2 piece outfit with no metal/zippers in your pants.
There is not any preparation for this test. Be sure and let the technician know if you have had a hip replacement or if you have metal rods in your back. The test can still be done; it will just be done with a different technique.
WHAT YOUR RESULTS/SCORE MEAN:
|T-SCORE||WHAT YOUR SCORE MEANS|
|Above -1||your bone density is considered normal.|
|Between -1 and -2.5||your score is a sign of osteopenia, a condition in which bone density is below normal and may lead to osteoporosis.|
|Below -2.5||your bone density indicates you have osteoporosis.|
HOW OFTEN WILL I HAVE TO HAVE A BONE DENSITY?
Your doctor will receive a report of your bone density test and review the results with you and determine if any treatment is needed and how often you need to have a bone density test.