SCBHS offers on-site Bone Density tests Monday-Friday 7:30 am – 5:00 p.m. A bone density test, sometimes called dexa scan, measures the density of your bones to estimate their strength. Essentially, it’s a measure of the health of your bones. As you age, minerals are constantly being added to and taken away from your bones. When minerals are lost faster than they are added, your bones become lighter, less dense and more porous. This is called osteopenia, a natural process that begins in midlife. It makes your bones weaker and more likely to break. Bone density loss can begin earlier for some people due to heredity and certain medical conditions or treatments. Osteopenia can develop into osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become thin and brittle. It can result in loss of height or a hump back, chronic pain, loss of movement due to bone fractures and/or a higher risk of hip fractures.
Who Should Have One
You doctor can help determine if you should have a bone density scan. They are recommended if you are age 65 or older regardless of risk. If you’re under 65 years of age, you should have a bone density scan if you have one or more of the following risks: Calcium-deficient diet, history of amenorrhea, history of malabsorption, moderate to high alcohol intake, poor nutirition, post-menopausal, prolonged treatment with steroids, certain anti-cancer drugs, thyroid hormone and some anti-seizure medications, significant caffeine consumption, small-boned frame and/or a smoker.
A bone density scan requires little preparation. You may eat normally and take medications as prescribed by your doctor the morning of your test. The only restrictions are: avoid taking calcium supplements for at least 24 hours prior to your appointment and you should not have had a barium study, radioisotope injection, oral or intravenous contrast material from a CT scan or MRI within seven days prior to your bone density test.
During the bone density scan, you will lay comfortably on a padded table while the bone density unit scans three or more areas, usually the spine and both hips. Unlike typical x-ray machines, radiation exposure during bone densitometry is extremely low. The entire process takes only minutes to complete. It involves no injections or invasive procedures.