Bone Density Testing

At the Thyra M. Humphreys Center for Breast Health, we’re not just concerned about the health of your breasts, but your overall health as well. That includes the health of your bones. That’s why we also offer bone density testing right here in our Center.

About half of all women age 50 and older will break a bone because of osteoporosis.
We offer an Osteoporosis Clinic, where you can meet with an expert on osteoporosis to:

  • review the results of your bone density testing and understand the meaning behind your numerical scores.
  • learn about possible treatment options
  • develop a personalized nutrition plan to help maintain your bone health

Why Would I Need a Bone Density Test?

Doctors use bone density testing, also called DEXA testing (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry), to see if you have osteoporosis.

The test itself is a painless procedure that involves lying on an X-ray table while a machine measures the mineral density of your bones. This text uses a very low level of radiation to see if you have experienced any bone loss.  

Bone density testing is not the same as a bone scan, which is used to check for broken bones, cancer, infections, or abnormalities of the bone.

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a condition where bones become fragile and break more easily.

It can result in:

  • a loss of height
  • a hump on your back
  • chronic pain
  • loss of movement
  • higher risk of a broken hip or vertebrae (which can have serious complications)

What Causes Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis usually results from:

  • hormonal changes
  • too little calcium
  • not enough Vitamin D

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


The older you are, the higher your risk of developing osteoporosis. This is because your bones become weaker as you age.
Other risk factors include:

  • a low body weight
  • a personal history of fractures
  • a family history of osteoporosis
  • use of certain medications that can cause bone loss
  • a diet low in calcium
  • smoking
  • heavy drinking
  • lack of exercise

Who Should Have a Bone Density Test?

Typically, those who should have a bone density test include:

  • women age 65 or older
  • those who have broken a bone as an adult
  • women and men age 60 or older who have an increased risk of developing osteoporosis 

How do I Prepare for my Bone Density Test?

  • If you take calcium supplements, you will need to stop taking them three days prior to your bone density test
  • You cannot have a bone density test within seven days of having certain other types of testing. Please let us know if are scheduled for a CT scan, MRI, nuclear medicine scan, GI testing or any other testing that involves contrast materials
  • Bring your doctor’s order for the test with you to your appointment
  • Please arrive a few minutes early
  • Dress comfortably, and do not wear clothing that has metal buttons, buckles, or zippers 

If you have had previous bone density studies, please bring a list indicating the names and addresses of the facilities where you had the testing as well as the dates when the tests occurred. If you have films of your previous bone scans, please bring them with you.


Questions? Want to schedule an appointment?