Bone density screenings can help determine if you are at risk of developing, or have already developed, osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a bone disease that reduces bone mass. The loss of bone results in increased fragility and susceptibility to fractures and breaks.
Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than men, particularly during menopause and post-menopause. Other conditions and heredity factors may increase the risk of developing osteoporosis.
Bone densitometry, or DEXA (dual energy x-ray absorptiometry), is an exam that detects early bone loss by measuring bone mineral density (BMD) with low-dose radiation. The results are used to determine the amount of bone mineral present. The spine and hip are the most common sites of measurement.
Determining your BMD helps your doctor to decide if you are at increased risk of developing osteoporosis or suffering from an osteoporosis-related fracture. Your doctor can then decide if any treatment is necessary to prevent fractures. A BMD may also be done prior to certain types of surgery, including orthopedic surgery, as low bone mass can impact the surgical plan and may require longer recovery times.
Who Should Have a Bone Densitometry Test?
Bone screenings are recommended for women over the age of 65 and postmenopausal women under age 65 with other risk factors. Men or women with a strong history of fractures, a family history of fractures and those who have other hereditary, lifestyle, or medical issues that increase their risk of osteoporosis or fractures might need to consider earlier screening.