Relevant answers to your frequent questions...

Bone Density Test: Frequently Asked Questions

This Bone Density Test FAQ is a listing of the most frequently asked questions about Bone Density Test. A great place to start getting answers to all your basic Bone Density Test questions.

What is a bone density test?

A bone mineral density (BMD) test measures the mineral density in the bone by bouncing a dual photon beam of light off the bone, measuring the difference in the density between bone and soft tissue. This shows how porous the bones have become and at what risk you are of having a fracture or degree of osteoporosis. Many woman have started to lose bone after age 30 as they are having anovulatory periods and not producing progesterone. This is already detrimental to bone. ...
A bone density test is a measurement of the density of your bone mineral, and can be taken from various places throughout the body, such as the hip, the spine, the heel, the forearm, the finger, or even your whole body. A bone density test involves the use of x-rays, in low dosage. It indicates to you whether or not you are at risk for fracture.

Why is a bone density test useful?

bone density test measures how much bone you have. The size and density of a bone influences strongly whether or not it will break, so measuring the density of a bone can be used to estimate its risk of breaking. However, there is no need to measure the density of every bone in the body. Osteoporosis is a global disease that affects the whole skeleton, some parts more than others, but all to some extent, so that measuring any one bone helps to estimate your overall risk for fracture.

Who should have a bone density test?

Recent guidelines issued by the National Osteoporosis Foundation recommend bone mineral density testing for the following individuals: Women 65 and older, regardless of other risk factors Postmenopausal women with one or more risk factor for osteoporosis (other than menopause) All postmenopausal women with fractures.
Any person may want to know the density of the bones. But, the bone density test is most often performed for people with a high risk of developing osteoporosis. It is also used to monitor the effectiveness of treatment for osteoporosis. The Osteoporosis Society of Canada also recommends that: Individuals over 50 with at least one major risk factor or two minor risk factors should be tested. Everyone over the age of 65 should be tested.

Does a bone density test hurt?

Unless you cannot lie on your back for up to 15 minutes without pain, a bone density test should be pain free!

Who should get a bone density test?

The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends that women aged 65 and older be screened for osteoporosis, as well as women aged 60 and older who are at increased risk for an osteoporosis-related fracture. However, the decision whether to have a bone density test is best made between a patient and his or her doctor.

What is the bone density test (BMD)?

The BMD test, a simple non-invasive test, is the best way to determine your bone health. BMD tests can identify osteoporosis, determine your risk for fractures (broken bones), and measure your response to osteoporosis treatment.

Is a bone density test painful?

No, bone density testing is completely noninvasive and painless. Most people find the test relaxing. You lie on a special padded x-ray table while measurements of your spine and hip are performed.

What type of bone density test should I get?

Get a DXA or QCT test that measures the bone density of the spine and hip. Bone loss typically occurs first in these areas. My book and the web pages sample reports, QCT, Hologic, and GE Healthcare give more information on these tests.

How should the patient prepare for a Bone Density Test?

There is no special preparation for a Bone Density Test. However, the patient should wear loose comfortable clothing, preferably without metal buttons, buckles, and zippers.

How does the bone density test define osteoporosis?

diagnosis of osteoporosis is defined in terms of standard deviations from the average peak bone mass. The World Health Organization defines osteoporosis as a bone mineral density 2.5 standard deviations below that of a normal healthy 30 year old. Those who are between 1 and 2.5 standard deviations below the norm are defined as having osteopenia or low bone mass. Individuals within one standard deviation of the 30-year-old norm are considered to be at low risk for osteoporotic fracture.

How often should I have a bone density test?

Bone density tests are typically done every two years, but your physician should determine the interval.
Again, this is based on your individual history. It may depend on your results, if you are taking any prescription drugs for your bone density, or if you are high risk for any reason.

Who Needs a Bone Mineral Density Test?

Anyone at any age, male or female with one or more of the risk factors for osteoporosis should have a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan. A DXA scan is an x-ray which is analyzed to determine bone density. It is a simple and painless procedure using an extremely low dose of radiation. It is short (about 15 minutes), accurate and is carried out with the person lying fully clothed on a padded examination table. The most common areas to be scanned are the lumbar spine and hips. ...

When should I have a bone density test?

If you’re a woman, it can be helpful for you to establish a baseline for your bone density either at the age of 50 or around the time of menopause, whichever comes earlier, provided you get a detailed, written report. Even if the results are normal, you can use the information to design an appropriate exercise program for yourself in order to prevent osteoporosis. Establishing a baseline can also help you determine your rate and amount of loss. ...

Does a DXA bone density test involve a lot of radiation?

The radiation dose of a DXA bone density test is about 1/10 that of a chest x-ray and 1/500th of a CT scan (data from GE Healthcare brochure). You’ll get about as much radiation from a DXA test as you would during a transcontinental flight. One big advantage of a DXA test is that it can provide images of the skeleton using very low radiation. If a problem is noted, these can be followed up with regular x-rays, which are sharper and provide greater detail. The figures below are examples of DXA images. ...

Can osteoporosis be diagnosed without a bone density test?

If you have a fracture from a simple fall, that is a good indicator that you have osteoporosis. But you don't want to wait until you have a fracture to find out if you might be at risk. There are many factors that increase your risk of having osteoporosis—if your mother or grandmother had it, if you smoke, if you have low body weight, or if you had low estrogen levels or low dietary calcium intake earlier in life—but a measurement of low bone density is the single most predictive factor for osteoporosis.

Is it true that a baseline bone density test is recommended for women at the age of 40?

Bone density testing is rarely indicated for premenopausal women since medication options for treatment are not FDA-approved for premenopausal use, except in the rare case of premenopausal osteoporosis caused by long-term steroid use. The ultimate goal of osteoporosis medication is to reduce fractures. However, fractures from osteoporosis are rare in premenopausal women, even in those who have very low bone mass.

My best friend advised me to measure my bone density. Must I take the bone density test?

Bone density only needs to be measured if necessary. However, do consult your healthcare professional to assess your risk of developing osteoporosis.

Who is eligible to have a bone density test under Medicare and what is the average reimbursement amount?

As covered under the Bone Mass Measurement Act (1998), there are five groups of qualified individuals that are covered by Medicare for bone strength testing if ordered by a treating physician or qualified non-physician practitioner: An estrogen deficient woman at clinical risk for osteoporosis An individual with vertebral abnormalities An individual receiving long-term glucocorticoid therapy An individual with primary hyperparathyroidism An individual being monitored to assess the response to or efficacy of an FDA-appro... ...

When should I schedule a Bone Mineral Density Test?

Generally, evaluating your bones every 2 years after your initial Bone Mineral Density Test will be sufficient. Your initial one frequently is done when you reach menopause. For more information click here .

Can my first bone density test tell me if I am losing bone mass?

No, a single bone density test cannot tell you that you have lost bone or that you are losing bone mass. It is, however, the best way to diagnose your bone density at the current time. A low result may simply mean that you had a low peak mass (the maximum bone density you can reach, usually between the ages 16 to 25). A repeat bone density test ideally on the same machine at the same location is the only way to show a change in bone density (bone loss or gain) over time. ...

Who is eligible to have a bone density test under Medicare and will Northwest Health & OsteoScreening bill insurance for this test?

As covered under the Bone Mass Measurement Act (1998), there are five groups of qualified individuals that are covered by Medicare for bone strength testing if such testing is ordered by a treating physician or qualified non-physician practitioner: An estrogen-deficient woman at clinical risk for osteoporosis An individual with vertebral abnormalities An individual receiving long-term glucocorticoid therapy An individual with primary hyperparathyroidism An individual being monitored to assess the response to or efficacy... ...

Bone Density - What do the test results mean?

Your BMD is directly related to fracture risk. The higher the BMD, the lower your risk for fracture. Bone density results are compared to individuals in your age group and reported as a “Z score.” A comparison is also made to normal young individuals and is described as a “T score.” Osteoporosis is defined as a BMD T score of -2.5 and below, even if you have not had fractures, and is normally an indication for treatment. A normal T score is -1 or greater. ...

Do I need a doctor's referral to have a bone density test?

Yes. Like most medical tests, a DXA bone density test requires a prescription from a physician. This can be your regular doctor, gynecologist, or another specialist you're seeing for other reasons. For DXA bone density test appointments, questions, and more information, call the Osteoporosis Prevention Center at 212.224.7935.

Will my insurance pay for a bone density test?

Individual benefits vary; therefore, each patient is encouraged to check with his/her insurance carrier. Typically, Medicare will cover the cost of a bone density test every two years.

How long does it take until my bone density test results are ready?

The results of the bone density test can be made available to the ordering doctor within seven to ten days, or you can visit with a nurse clinician to get your results immediately following the test. Our nurses are specially trained to interpret these tests.

Do I need to do anything special to prepare for a bone density test?

It is best to wear clothing with no metal (snaps, zippers, clips, underwire, etc.) and it is also important that you have not had any other diagnostic tests that require the use of contrast media (barium, nuclear medicine, etc.) within a week before your bone density test. It is best if you do not take calcium tablets for 48 hours prior to the test. ...

Can I have a bone density test without a consultation with Dr. Boniske?

Yes, your doctor can refer you to our office just for a bone density test. After your test we will send a complete report to your doctor. (Of course if you want a consultation with our doctor that can be arranged separately).
Bookmark this page  

Also on SnappyFingers: