Bone Density Scanning
What You Need to Know
What is bone density scanning?
Bone Density Scanning determines if you have osteoporosis — a disorder characterized by bones that are more fragile and more likely to break. It enhances the accuracy of calculating your risk of breaking bones.
A bone density test uses X-rays to measure how many grams of calcium and other bone minerals are packed into a segment of bone. The bones that are most commonly tested are in the spine, hip and sometimes the forearm.
Why is bone density scanning performed?
Doctors use bone density testing to:
· Identify decreases in bone density before you break a bone
· Determine your risk of broken bones (fractures)
· Confirm a diagnosis of osteoporosis
· Monitor osteoporosis treatment
The higher your bone mineral content, the denser your bones are. And the denser your bones, the stronger they generally are and the less likely they are to break.
We may recommend a bone density test if you’ve:
· Lost height. People who have lost at least 1.6 inches (4 centimeters) in height may have compression fractures in their spines, for which osteoporosis is one of the main causes.
· Fractured a bone. Fragility fractures occur when a bone becomes so fragile that it breaks much more easily than expected. Fragility fractures can sometimes be caused by a strong cough or sneeze.
· Taken certain drugs. Long-term use of steroid medications, such as prednisone, interferes with the bone-rebuilding process — which can lead to osteoporosis.
· Received a transplant. People who have received an organ or bone marrow transplant are at higher risk of osteoporosis, partly because anti-rejection drugs also interfere with the bone-rebuilding process.
· Had a drop in hormone levels. In addition to the natural drop in hormones that occurs after menopause, women’s estrogen may also drop during certain cancer treatments. Lowered estrogen hormone levels can weaken bones.
· When you turn 65 years old a bone density test is recommended for screening purposes.