Our bones support our body and make movement possible, which is why bone density testing is so important. A bone density test detects how dense, or strong, your bones are. Low bone density can be a risk factor for osteoporosis, an age-related disorder that consists of decreased bone mass and increased susceptibility to fractures.
Osteoporosis is most commonly seen in postmenopausal women with about 1.2 million fractures per year attributed to the condition. Of these fractures, about one-third are compressed fractures of the spine. Lately, doctors are finding low bone density in an increasingly large number of men, younger women, and even children. Many of those diagnosed with decreased bone mass were not fully aware of their condition. It was only through a bone density scan that their risk was uncovered.
Centrelake Imaging & Oncology uses an enhanced form of x-ray technology called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). DEXA bone densitometry is today’s established standard for measuring bone mineral density (BMD). DEXA is a quick, painless procedure for measuring bone density and mineral content. It is most commonly used to measure density of the lower spine and hips with incredibly accuracy.
The DEXA test can also assess your risk for developing fractures. If low bone density is discovered, the patient and referring physician can work together on a treatment plan to help prevent fractures before they occur. DEXA is also effective in tracking the effects of treatment from osteoporosis or for other conditions that can cause bone loss.
Low bone density testing often focuses on post-menopausal women, but testing is being prescribed to a wider range of patients, including:
Refrain from taking calcium supplements for at least 24 hours beforehand. Wear comfortable clothing and avoid garments that have zippers, belts or buttons made of metal. Let your technologist know if you’ve recently had a barium examination or have been injected with a contrast material for another exam. Let your technologist know if there is a possibility you are pregnant.
Depending on the equipment used and the parts of the body being examined, the test takes between 10 and 30 minutes. You may be asked to undress and put on a gown. You’ll lie on a padded table with an x-ray generator below and a detector (an imaging device) above. It is important that you remain as still as possible during the procedure to ensure a clear and useful image. During an examination of the spine, your legs will be supported on a padded box to flatten your pelvis and lower (lumbar) spine. During an examination of the hips, the technologist will place your foot in a brace that rotates the hip inward. The detector is scanned over the area, generating images on a computer monitor.
DEXA bone densitometry is a simple, painless and non-invasive procedure. Once on the examination table, you may be asked to remain still and to hold an awkward position for a short period of time while the machine takes measurements. For more information on this topic, please visit www.Radiologyinfo.org.
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