Understanding a bone density scan
A bone mineral densitometry exam uses a Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scanner, which looks like a large, flat table with an “arm” suspended overhead.
A bone density test is quick, painless, and non-invasive. It measures how much calcium and minerals are in your bones, giving you an accurate estimation of how dense or thick your bones are.
Having more minerals in your bones means they are stronger, denser, and less likely to break. The lower your mineral count, the greater your chance of breaking a bone.
Confidently detecting osteoporosis
Osteoporosis, which is a disease of the bones, causes bones to be weak and break easily. The doctor uses your results of the test to evaluate your risk of fractures.
Women and men aged 65 and older are at the highest risk for developing osteoporosis and should get a bone density scan. Those below 65 who have broken a bone during a minor accident, have arthritis, smoke, drink heavily, or have a low body weight should speak with a doctor about the potential risk of osteoporosis.
What to expect
Do not take calcium or vitamins on the morning before your test.
Wear loose-fitting clothing. You may be asked to change into a gown.
Remove all jewelry and any clothing with metal or buttons.
You cannot have had a diagnostic imaging exam involving barium or x-ray dye in the week before the exam.
The exam takes 15 minutes and you will be required to lie still for 10 minutes.