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Bone Density Scan

What is Bone Density Testing?

This test is performed in our Chesapeake office to measure the density of the spine and both hips. Bone density decreases in both men and women as they age, but in women, the decrease is more rapid and more severe once menopause occurs. The measurements do not accurately measure the bone strength, but provide acceptable approximation.

Why would we need to have a Bone Density Test?

Reasons for the procedure are:

  • As an aid in diagnosing osteoporosis
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Follow up of a previous bone density test to determine if the medication is effectively treating the low bone mass
  • Looking for effects on the bone in women who have low estrogen levels but do not show any signs of menopause
  • Women on long-term steroid therapy
  • Long term use of corticosteroids, thyroid hormones or Dilantin
  • Women who have intestinal problems that keep them from absorbing calcium and other minerals

What can I expect during the procedure?

It is a painless procedure. We use a GE Lunar Dexa Bone Scan that uses very little radiation. You lie comfortably on your back with a foam block under the bottom half of your legs just beneath the knees. The spine is scanned in a matter of 5-10 minutes. The block is removed and you straighten out both legs on the table. A wedge is placed in between your feet and your legs are turned inward. Both hips are scanned one at a time, which takes about 10-15 minutes. The results are analyzed by the computer immediately and can be discussed with you.

What happens after I get my results?

If your Bone Density Test is normal, then you continue to take 1200mg of calcium and 400IU of vitamin D daily. You take 1 tablet in the morning and 1 tablet in the evening. Weight bearing exercise is also recommended. For example, walking, running, aerobics, weight lifting or any exercise not in a pool.

If the Bone Density Test is abnormal, then you will have blood test drawn in order to look for other reasons for the low bone mass. There will be a follow up appointment to discuss these lab results. A lot of women have a decrease in vitamin D levels. This vitamin is necessary in order to get calcium into the bones. You may need to take a prescription strength Vitamin D dose for 3 months with additional blood tests to make sure the vitamin D levels are increasing. If your Vitamin D is normal, then you may need to take a prescription strength medication that helps build the bone density up. Women who are on estrogen hormone therapy may be able to avoid other medications because the estrogen does help deter bone loss.

What do the results of the Bone Density Test mean?

  • Normal bone density is a T-score of -1.0 and anything above 1.0
  • Osteopenia (low bone mass) is a T-score of -1.0 and -2.5
  • Osteoporosis is a T-score of -2.5 and below

For more information, contact the National Osteoporosis Foundation at 800-223-9994 or their website www.nof.org