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Bone Densitometry Testing

How does a bone densitometer work?

A bone densitometer measures bone mineral density (BMD). The amount of bone mineral relates directly to bone density. The bone densitometer uses small amounts of x-ray to measure BMD. The technical term for the method is “dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry”, or DXA. The spine and hip are measured because that is where most osteoporotic fractures occur.

What does a bone densitometer measure?

A bone densitometry test is an aid to doctors in the diagnosis of osteoporosis. The test compares a patient’s bone quality to that of a “young adult” at peak bone strength (T-score). It also compares the results to people of the patient’s same age, called “age-matched” (Z-score). This information, along with other factors, helps doctors gauge the risk of osteoporotic fracture. A T-score of -1 equals a one “standard deviation” decrease from young adult (which is about 10%).

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a gradual thinning and weakening of the bones. It is often called the “silent disease,” as there are rarely  signs until a lot of bone has been lost. Visible symptoms may include loss of height along with curvature of the upper back. Osteoporosis also can result in a crippling and painful fracture, occurring most often in the hip, back, or wrist.

What are the risk factors?

  • female                                            
  • a low calcium diet
  • Caucasian                                      
  • lack of exercise
  • advanced age                                 
  • eating disorder
  • a history of bone fracture              
  • certain medicines(such as steroids or anticonvulsants)
  • a small thin frame                            
  • a family history of osteoporosis   
  • alcohol and tobacco use 
  • removal of the ovaries                  
  • early menopause


Call 859.275.2100 to schedule Bone Densitometry at Saint Joseph Imaging Center

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