Bone Density (DEXA) Testing

The higher the mineral content, the denser your bones are. The denser your bones are, the stronger they generally are and the less likely they are to break.

Doctors use a bone density test to determine if you have or are at risk of osteoporosis.

Bone density tests are not the same as bone scans. Bone scans require an injection beforehand and are usually used to detect fractures, cancer, infections and other abnormalities in the bone.

Why do I need a bone density (DEXA) test?

Typically the people who should have bone density tests performed are:

  • Women age 65 or older
  • Individuals who have had a fracture as an adult
  • Adults 60 or older that have increased risk for osteoporosis from:
    • Low body weight
    • A family history of osteoporosis
    • Using certain medications that can cause bone loss
    • Diet low in calcium
    • Smoking
    • Heavy drinking
    • Lack of exercise

Our Osteoporosis Clinic

About half of all women over the age of 50 are estimated to fracture a bone because of osteoporosis.

The Thyra M. Humphreys Center for Breast Health offers an Osteoporosis Clinic where you can meet with an expert to review bone density testing, who will provide real-life meaning to the numerical scores.

You can speak to osteoporosis experts about possible treatment options and develop a nutrition plan to help maintain your bone health.

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a disease that increases bone loss. Bones become thin and brittle. That can result in:

  • Loss of height or a hump on your back
  • Chronic pain
  • Loss of movement caused by fractures
  • Higher risk of hip/vertebral fractures – which can have fatal complications

The older you are, the higher your risk of osteoporosis because your bones become weaker as you age. Other risk factors for osteoporosis include: low body weight, a personal history of fractures, a family history of osteoporosis and using certain medications that can cause bone loss.

How do I prepare for my bone density test?

A bone density test may not be conducted within seven days of your having a CAT scan, MRI, upper GI, nuclear medicine scan, or barium enema. Please tell us if you are scheduled for any of the above exams. Also please note:

  • Stop taking calcium supplements three days prior to your test.
  • Bring your doctor’s order with you to your appointment and arrive a few minutes early.
  • Dress comfortably, and do not wear clothes with metal buttons, buckles or zippers.
  • If you have had bone density studies at any other facility please bring a list of the facilities, along with the addresses and dates the exams were completed. Also, please bring your previous bone films with you.
  • As with any test, be sure to tell your healthcare provider if you may be pregnant.