A bone densitometry examination measures the density of your bones and can determine if you have osteoporosis or are at risk of osteoporosis before you break any bones. Low bone density increases your risk for fractures and a bone density test is a fairly accurate predictor of your risk. The hips, spine and wrists are the most common locations for bone fractures associated with osteoporosis. The results from a bone density test can let you know how you compare with other people of your age, sex and other similar characteristics.
A bone density test uses special X-rays to measure how many grams of calcium and other bone minerals are packed into a segment of bone. The test involves lying on a table for 10-15 minutes while a low dose x-ray beam scans your hip and spine. The test is fast, easy and painless. It involves no risk other than a very low radiation exposure (10% of the radiation of a chest x-ray).
You can speak with your physician regarding the necessary indications for a diagnostic bone densitometry. The exam will be considered an MSP insured service if there is one major or two minor risk factors for osteoporosis. Examples of major risk factors are if you are 65 or older, have a family history of osteoporosis fracture, a trauma fracture over age 40 and early menopause (before age 45). Minor risk factors include low body weight, excessive caffeine and alcohol intake, smoking and low dietary calcium intake. Talk to your doctor for further information.
When making the decision to have your initial exam remember that it is important for consistency purposes that follow ups be completed at the same facility as the original exam. At MedRay, it is our goal that you have a relaxing, friendly experience and you will look forward to your follow up.
For more information on Bone Densitometry please see the British Columbia Medical Association's Patient's Guide.