What is Bone Densitometry?
Osteoporosis is a generalized, progressive reduction of bone density
that often leads to skeletal weakness. It is a debilitating disease in which
bones become fragile and more likely to break. In fact, Osteoporosis is a
leading cause of fractures in men and women over the age of 65.
Bone densitometry measures the bone denseness in various sites of the
body and can detect osteoporosis before a fracture occurs. In other words, this
exam helps predict your chances of future fracture and determine your current
rate of bone loss. This information can assist the physician in diagnosing
osteoporosis and advising you in appropriate preventions and treatment for this
The bone densitometer uses small amounts of x-ray to produce images of
the spine, hip, forearm, or whole body. The x-ray is composed of two energy
levels, which are absorbed differently by the bones in the body. The test may
also be referred to as a DEXA scan (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry). A
computer is able to determine from the differences in bone absorption how much
bone mineral is present. The spine and hip are measured most frequently since
that is where osteoporotic fractures most often occur.
How should I prepare?
Bone densitometry studies are now offered in our Puyallup
and Sunrise Imaging
Centers or may be scheduled with the
Radiology Department at Allenmore
Hospital. When making
your appointment, please let us know if you have had any back or hip surgeries
in the past.
Normal clothing may be worn; however, belt buckles, metal or thick
plastic buttons, and metal jewelry will need to be removed from the area being
examined. The technologist will position the patient's arms and legs for the
test, which is painless and takes about ten minutes.
You are asked not to take vitamins or calcium pills the day of the
Also, please make arrangements to keep your children at home on the day of your
There are no childcare services onsite...and due to the presence of
radiation, children are not allowed to enter exam rooms during imaging
What should I expect?
The bone densitometer is similar to a large examination table. Your
name, age, height, weight, and ethnicity are entered into the computer prior to
the test. This information is used to compare your results to a
"normal" reference group.
The amount of x-rays absorbed is about 1/10th of that received from a
chest x-ray. This is comparable to the naturally occurring radiation a person
is exposed to in one week. Even though the x-ray dose is very low, you will be
asked to inform our staff if you are pregnant or might be pregnant before the
test is conducted.
The test compares the bone mineral density to that of a young adult at
peak bone strength. It also compares individual results to people of the same
age. This information is used to gauge the risk of osteoporotic fracture. The
difference between your results and that of a "young adult" is given
as a T-score. The World Health Organization has developed categories that
define the amount of bone loss:
- Normal: T-score that is above-1
- Osteopenic: T-score is between -1 and -2.5 (low bone density)
- Osteoporosis: T-score below -2.5
are usually available 3 working days after the procedure. Please contact your
referring physician for results at that time.
Which location offers Bone Densitometry?
- Puyallup Imaging Center
- Sunrise Image Center