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Bone Density Test

Bone density testing at Methodist

What is bone density testing?

Bone density testing, or densitometry, is primarily used to detect osteopenia or osteoporosis, diseases in which the bones’ mineral content and density are low, increasing the risk for fractures.

Bone density testing uses a specialized form of X-ray testing called dual-energy X-ray absorptionometry (DXA or DEXA). The test is done much in the same way as a traditional X-ray, and is quick and painless. There are two types of DEXA devices. Central DEXA devices measure bone density in the hip and spine. Peripheral devices can measure bone density in the wrist, heel, or finger.

Who needs a bone density test?

Bone density testing is usually recommended for people at high risk for osteoporosis. You may be at risk if you:

  • Are a postmenopausal woman and are not taking estrogen
  • Are a current or former smoker
  • Have a family history of broken hips
  • Are a man with clinical conditions associated with bone loss
  • Take medicines that cause bone loss, such as prednisone, Dilantin, certain barbiturates, or high-dose thyroid replacement drugs
  • Have type 1 diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, or a family history of osteoporosis
  • Have a thyroid condition such as hyperthyroidism
Imaging must be ordered by a physician.

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