Bone Density Scan / DEXA Scan

What is a bone density scan?

A bone density scan, also known as a DEXA scan, is a low-dose X-ray diagnostic test that evaluates the amount of calcium and other minerals in the bones. The measurement indicates the strength and thickness of your bones (also known as bone density or mass).

As people become older, their bones get thinner. Osteopenia occurs when bones grow thinner than normal. Osteopenia puts you at risk for osteoporosis, a more serious bone disorder. Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bone thinning and causes fragility. Osteoporosis often affects older adults, with women over the age of 65 being the most affected. Fractures (broken bones) are more common in people with osteoporosis, particularly in the hips, spine, and wrists.

Other names: DEXA or DXA scan (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry), bone mineral density test or bone mineral density (BMD) test.

What is Bone Density Test used for?

A bone density test is used for the following:

  • To diagnose osteopenia (low bone mass)
  • To diagnose osteoporosis
  • Predict the risk of future fractures
  • See if treatment for osteoporosis is working

What is the need of a bone density test?

Most women over the age of 65 should get a bone density scan. Women in this age bracket are at a greater risk of bone density loss, which can result in fractures. One is also at risk of having poor bone density when:

  • Have an extremely low body mass index.
  • Older than the age of 50.
  • Already had one or more fractures earlier.
  • Have dropped half an inch or more in height in the last year.
  • Are you a 70-year-old.
  • Have a family history of osteoporosis.

Other risk factors are:

  • Insufficient physical activity
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Excessive drinking
  • Not consuming enough calcium and vitamin D.

What will happen during a Bone Density Test / DEXA Scan?

There are several methods for determining bone density. The most frequent and precise method is dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, generally known as a DEXA scan. The scan is often performed by a radiologist.

During a Bone Density Test or a DEXA scan, the following events occur:

  • A patient will be positioned on their back on a cushioned table.
  • The patient will be requested to lie with their legs straight.
  • The lower spine and hip will be scanned using a scanning machine. Simultaneously, another scanning equipment known as a photon generator will pass beneath you.
  • Images from both devices will be merged and transmitted to a computer. The visuals on the computer screen will be seen by a healthcare practitioner.
  • The patient must remain completely motionless while the machines scan.

A portable scanner called a peripheral DEXA (p-DEXA) scan may be used by a provider to test bone density in the forearm, finger, hand, or foot.

How to prepare for the test?

Before taking this test the doctor will give you instructions. It is possible that you will be asked to stop consuming calcium supplements 24 to 48 hours before your test, if you are taking any. You should also avoid wearing metal jewelry or clothing with metal things like buttons or buckles.

Is there any risk in the test?

A bone density scan utilizes extremely low levels of radiation. It is safe for all. However, it is not advised for pregnant women to take this test. Even small levels of radiation can be harmful to an unborn child. Inform your doctor if you are pregnant.

Understanding the results

T scores are commonly used to describe bone density levels. A T score compares the bone density measurements with the bone density of a healthy 30-year-old person. A low T score indicates that you have bone loss.

Your results may reveal:

  • A T score of -1.0 or greater: This score is regarded as normal bone density.
  • A T score of -1.0 to -2.5: This suggests you have a low bone density (osteopenia) and might develop osteoporosis.
  • A T score of less than -2.5: This indicates that you are most likely suffering from osteoporosis.

If your findings suggest that you have poor bone density, your doctor will advise you on how to avoid additional bone loss such as:

  • Increasing physical activity through exercises such as walking, dancing, and utilizing weight machines.
  • Increasing your calcium and vitamin D intake
  • Taking prescription medications to boost bone density.

Consult your doctor if you have any questions regarding your results or treatments for bone loss.

Important information about a bone density scan?

The most common method of measuring bone density is using a DEXA scan. However, your doctor may prescribe further tests to confirm a diagnosis or to determine if bone loss therapy is effective. These include calcium blood tests, vitamin D testing, and tests for some hormones.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. How is the Bone DensityTest done?

A big scanner wand will be passed over the body to measure bone density in the center of the skeleton. A small beam of low-dose X-rays will be sent through the body while the scanner arm wand moves gently across the body.

2. Is a Bone Density Test painful?

A bone density test is not painful, it won’t hurt the person, it is like an X-ray or scan of your body.

3. How much time does the Bone Density Test take?

The Bone Density Test will take around 15 to 20 minutes.

4. What happens if your Bone Density Test results are low?

Low bone density can cause major medical problems, including bone fractures. The most concerning problem is osteoporosis, in which poor bone density causes holes inside the bone to grow and the bone's exterior walls (the cortex) to shrink.

5. Can a Bone Density Test detect tumors?

Yes, a bone scan can detect tumors. Bone scan is an imaging examination that is used to assess bone fractures, monitor bone disorders such as infections, arthritis, or osteoporosis, and detect malignant cells that have spread to the bone from another location.

6. Can I eat before a Bone Density Test?

Yes, one can eat food and drink water before tests; however, one should not take any calcium supplements before 24 hours of the bone density test.

7. What foods should you avoid before having a Bone Density Test?

One should avoid calcium-rich foods for 3-4 hours before the bone density tests, such as milk, cheese, yogurt, dark green leafy vegetables, etc.

8.When should a woman get a Bone Density Test?

A woman should take a bone density test at the age of 65 and older.

9. What is the cost of a Bone Density Test?

Bone Density Test cost is approximately 700 to 900, it might depend on various factors and can vary from place to place.

10. Where can I get a Bone Density Test in Hyderabad?

For Bone Density Tests, visit Medicover Hospitals in Hyderabad, it offers all kinds of diagnostic tests and facilities with accuracy.

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