Bone Density Test

Bone density testing (otherwise known as bone densitometry) is a medical procedure designed to measure a person’s bone density or strength. The test is the most reliable indicator of osteoporosis (when bones become less dense, lose strength and break easily due to calcium loss) and osteopenia (a mild form of osteoporosis). It can also determine the likelihood of future bone fractures. A bone density scan may be recommended by your doctor following a poor result in a blood test measuring calcium levels or following a bone fracture.
When measuring bone density, it can be measured either in the entire body, or in specific regions. The most common areas isolated for detailed study are: the spine, hips, legs and arms. These regions are chosen as they are easily accessible, they are parts of the body most susceptible to fracture.
The most common method to measure bone mass is Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA). During the test, a person lies on a flat, padded table, remaining motionless while the machine’s ‘arm’ passes over the entire body or select areas. Whilst the measurement(s) is performed, an x-ray beam from below the table passes through the area being measured. The machine converts the information received into an image of the skeleton, analysing the quantity of bone in the skeleton. The results are reported as Bone Mineral Density (BMD), which is the amount bone per unit of skeletal area. Each measurement takes approximately 60 seconds to perform.
Your doctor may request you to have a bone density scan for a variety of reasons. These can include: suffering from osteoporosis or osteopenia, having a spinal deformity, having suffered a previous minimal trauma fracture, or long term use of certain medications such as steroids.
When you receive your results, your doctor will interpret them, explaining lifestyle and dietary changes which may improve it. For the novice, it can be difficult to interpret the results of a bone density scan, so here are a few things to guide you.The measurements are reported in T-scores for adults and Z-scores for children. Both methods describe your bone density in relation to others in a similar age group – referred to as the ‘reference population’. The reference population for T-scores is young adults of the same sex as the patient, and the reference population for Z-scores describes people of the same age and sex as the patient. Osteoporosis is typically diagnosed if your ‘T’ or ‘Z’ scores measure less than -2.5.

Bone Density Test

Mammography (commonly referred to as a Mammogram) is a simple x-ray examination of the breasts to look for any abnormalities (e.g. breast lumps ).

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