Note: This test is performed at our Upper East Side Location (65th & 3rd)
A variety of tests have been developed to screen for bone density in order to spot problems early and start treatment before symptoms progress. Some kinds of tests, called peripheral bone density tests, can be performed just about anywhere, such as a pharmacy or a community health fair. Peripheral bone density screenings don’t always accurately diagnose osteoporosis, but they can help identify people who might benefit from a full bone density test.
Very little preparation is necessary for a bone density test. You should avoid taking calcium supplements for 24 hours before the test, but otherwise you may go about your normal routine. When you go in for your appointment, do not wear clothes that have buttons or zippers that will be in the way of the area being scanned.
If you believe that you may be at risk of osteoporosis due to early menopause, suspicious bone fractures, or any of the other above risk factors, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with one of our expert physicians. A bone density test can help determine whether further treatment is necessary. Often we can help patients prevent further symptoms through some straightforward lifestyle changes, but we will help to determine the best option for you as an individual.
Bone density testing is done using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, or DXA, a sophisticated kind of X-ray technology that measures the amount of calcium and other bone-supporting minerals in sections of bone in the hip, spine or forearm.
Changes in bone density occur rather gradually, so generally you won’t need to schedule your next bone density test for another couple of years. Follow-up bone density tests should be performed in the same place for the most consistent possible results. If your test reveals that you are at a high risk of osteoporosis or broken bones, your doctor may recommend a treatment plan to address bone loss. Treatments can include exercise, changes to diet, or vitamin D and calcium supplements. In cases where you are at high risk of severe bone loss, hormone therapy may be prescribed.
There are no major risks involved in a bone density test. The amount of radiation you are exposed to during a bone density test is significantly lower than the amount your body would experience during a chest X-ray or a plane flight.
A bone density test can reveal whether or not you are at risk of significant bone loss, but it does not determine the exact cause. Follow-up diagnostics, such as a blood test, might be necessary.