You can easily find out how healthy your bones are—and whether you're at risk for debilitating bone diseases like osteoporosis—by undergoing a bone density test. It's a painless exam that takes less than 15 minutes. As you lie on your back on a padded cushion, our "DXA" system goes back and forth overhead, taking scans of areas most prone to breakage: your lower back, hip and sometimes the forearm. Using an extremely low-dose X-ray, the system measures how dense(strong) your bones are. The equipment is an open scanner so you won’t feel closed in. If you wear clothing without any buttons or metal, you won’t even need to change into a dressing gown.
What can a bone density test tell me about my bones?
A lot. It can tell you whether or not you have osteopenia—low bone density. This type of condition can lead to bone fragility, which can increase your chances for fractures. It can also tell you if you have osteoporosis, a debilitating bone disease that occurs when you lose too much bone, make too little or both. Osteoporotic bones are much more apt to break—in fact, people with severe osteoporosis can even break a bone by simply bumping into furniture or turning over in bed.
The bone density test results are reported in two numbers: "T-score" or "Z-score."*
Your T-score is your bone density compared with what is normally expected in a healthy young adult of your sex. Your T-score is the number of units—called standard deviations—that your bone density is above or below the average.
-1 and above: Your bone density is considered normal.
Between -1.0 and -2.5: Your score is a sign of osteopenia, a condition in which bone density is below normal and may lead to osteoporosis.
-2.5 and below: Your bone density indicates you likely have osteoporosis.
Your Z-score is the number of standard deviations above or below what's normally expected for someone of your age, sex, weight, and ethnic or racial origin. If your Z-score is -2 or lower, it may suggest that something other than aging is causing abnormal bone loss. If your doctor can identify the underlying problem, that condition can often be treated and the bone loss slowed or stopped.
Women are more prone to osteoporosis than men. In fact, 80% of Americans with osteoporosis are women. Why? There are several reasons, including:
Women tend to have smaller, thinner bones than men.
Estrogen, a hormone in women that protects bones, decreases sharply when women reach menopause, which can cause bone loss.
So if you are a post-menopausal woman or age 50 and older—or a man over the age of 65—talk to your doctor about getting a bone density test. We know your time is valuable; so if you’re a woman, we can schedule both your bone density and mammogram exams together to get you in and out and on your way.
How to prepare for your bone density exam
Bone density tests are easy, fast and painless. But there are a few things we ask to keep in mind prior to coming in for your scan:
Do not take any calcium supplements or multiple vitamins 24 hours prior to your appointment and no contrast or barium tests for 7 days prior to the exam.
For your convenience, you will not need to change into a dressing gown if you wear something that does not have any metal, such as metal buttons, snaps or zippers. Of course, we have hospital gowns available if you prefer.
million Americans have osteoporosis and low bone mass, putting them at higher risk for breaking bones.
of Americans with osteoporosis are women.
"It seems women are limited on the seacoast where we can do bone densitometry and mammograms, but Women's Life Imaging Center has been a great service provider!"
"Had bone density test done in no time at all. Pain free – excellent!"
"Very friendly, professional staff – wait time was excellent – in and out 45 minutes for mammogram and bone density test!"