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Bone Density

A Bone Density study helps diagnose osteoporosis (bone thinning). Scans of your lower back, hip, or forearm are taken to measure the amount of calcium (density) in your bones. Calcium is the mineral that makes up your bones. The higher the bone mineral content, the denser the bones are. The denser the bones, the stronger they generally are and the less likely they are to break.

The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends a bone density test for individuals who are over age 50 with a history of a broken bone. Men older than 70 and women who are age 65 or over, postmenopausal or recently stopped hormone therapy should also be tested.

Preparation

  • No calcium supplements 24 hours prior to appointment.
  • If you wear clothing with no metal you may not be required to change for the appointment.
  • Arrive 15 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment time with a prescription if your doctor has given you one.
  • Bring your list of medications.
  • It is advised that you perform your bone density exam at the same location as your previous bone density exam(s).

Procedure

  • You will lie on a table or sit.
  • Your lower legs may be raised on a platform.
  • A scanner arm moves back and forth over the part of your body being scanned.
  • Remain still and do not talk during the scan.
  • This procedure will take about 30 minutes. 

Considerations

  • Due to the use of different types of oral contrast, if you are having a combination of any of the following exams performed, they must be done in the following order:
    • Bone density, then CT, then GI
      • If you are unable to schedule them in the above order, please wait 10 days between each exam.

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