Bone density scan, or bone mass measurement, is a procedure used to measure the bone tissue’s strength. These tests can determine if you have osteoporosis, osteopenia or at high risk for fractures.
Why do I need to undergo bone density scans?
Bone density scan is done when there is suspected vertebral deformity, you have had a previous fracture, or when postmenopausal women are concerned about osteoporosis or osteopenia, which is quite common among elderly females. However, there are other conditions that can bring about bone loss such as having chronic liver disease, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic renal failure, or hormonal conditions.
Before having the test done, you would have to discuss with your doctor possible risk factors for bone disease, medical history, or if you are pregnant. Pregnant women are not advised to undergo bone density scans. Special instructions are given as to how to prepare for the test.
What are the different test procedures available?
There are different ways on how doctors go about bone density scans. Most are often quick and painless. All of the tests involve getting yourself undressed, including your jewelry, and put on a hospital gown.
• Dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). The most common, fastest and the most accurate technique for measuring bone density. It involves using different energy of x-ray beams to detect bone and soft tissue density individually. It can measure bone density of the spine, hip, forearm, and the whole body.
• Single energy x-ray absorptiometry. For this technique, the area to be measured is wrapped in a tissue-like substance or submerged in water for better result quality. This test utilizes a single x-ray beam on peripheral areas such as the forearm and heel.
• Ultrasound. Quantitative ultrasound (QUS) can estimate the bone density of the heel in minutes by providing data on the bone’s structural integrity.
What happens after the bone density scan?
The bone scan will take about half an hour and you can go home right after. You would need to set a follow-up appointment with your doctor to discuss the results. The results of the bone density scan is reported as gram per centimeter squared (g/cm2) and as a T-score or Z-score, which describes your bone density scan result in reference to other people in a similar group, called the reference population. Osteoporosis is often diagnosed for a T-score result of 2.5 or less.
The Perlman Clinic offers bone density scan results straight to your email inbox. Just send us your name, date of birth and imaging test result you want to [email protected]. You would need to print a hard copy for your personal copy and contact our office immediately by phone to discuss the results with your health care provider.