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Bone Density

What is a bone density scan?

A bone density scan uses X-rays to determine the strength of bones. This test, used to detect a potential deterioration of bone known as osteoporosis, can help predict if a patient is at risk for fractures.

What are the preps for a bone density scan?

Wear a comfortable two-piece outfit, avoiding pants with metal buttons, buckles, zippers, or snaps. Do not take any over-the-counter or prescription medication such as calcium, multivitamins, or Tums for 48 hours. If you are currently taking Fosamax, Actonel or Miacalcin these medications will need to be discontinued within seven days of the test. The bone density should not be scheduled within seven days of having the following:

  • Barium enema
  • Barium swallow
  • Upper GI series
  • CT scan with contrast
  • Any nuclear medicine study
  • Angiogram/heart catheterization
  • IVP
  • MRI with contrast

Who should be tested?

  • Testing is generally recommended for:
  • Adults with a medical condition or medication history associated with bone loss
  • Women over age 65 regardless of additional risk factors
  • Young post menopausal women with at least on risk factor (other than race or gender)
  • Post-menopausal women with a fracture
  • Women undergoing or considering treatment for osteoporosis

How is the exam performed?

Having a bone density test is painless, safe, and simple. The patient will lie on a table on his or her back while the machine scans and measures the bone density in their hip and spine. The scan takes only a few minutes, and a board certified radiologist specializing in bone density will review the scan. Results will be given to the patient before they leave the Breast Care Center.