A bone density test is used to diagnose osteoporosis or to follow a patient who has already been diagnosed. There are several techniques currently in use to measure bone density. The Women’s Imaging Center uses the DEXA bone densitometer, which can measure bones of the spine, hip and wrist.
Using a very small amount of radiation- only a fraction of that used in a chest x-ray – a beam scans your spine or hip while lying down. This action produces a picture of the region as well as an actual measurement of your bone density. Bone Density Scans are performed by licensed Radiologic Technologists who are certified in DEXA scanning by the International Society for Clinical Densitometry (ICSD) and the American Registry of Radiologic Technology.
Please note that a bone density test is not the same as a ‘bone scan’, which is a nuclear imaging exam that looks for diseases of the bone. There are no injections of contrast involved in a bone density test.
What is a bone density test like?
After you have been registered, the technologist will bring you into the exam room, go over your history and explain the test to you. You will then lie down on a flat table. A hip positioner helps ensure comfort and the quality of the scan. The scanning process takes 20 minutes or less.
How do I obtain results?
Your exam will be interpreted by a board-certified Internist and a board-certified Rheumatologist. Physicians are certified by the ISCD. Results will be sent to your healthcare provider in 7-10 days. Your healthcare provider will inform you of your results.
How do I prepare for my appointment?
You should not have had a contrast x-ray study within the three weeks prior to your appointment.
Do not take calcium tablets on the day of your appointment.
To streamline the registration process, you can print and fill out the Bone Density Questionnaire in advance and bring it to your appointment.
Wear loose clothing without zippers, metal buttons, or metal clasps.
You may be asked to change into a gown prior to the exam if necessary.
Please arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment to allow time for parking and registration.