To accurately detect osteoporosis, doctors commonly use DEXA bone densitometry to measure bone mineral density (BMD). DEXA is a quick, painless procedure for measuring bone loss. Measurement of the lower spine and hips are most often done.
>> Who is a candidate for the test?
DEXA bone densitometry is commonly used to diagnose osteoporosis, a condition that often affects women after menopause but may also be found in men. Osteoporosis involves a gradual loss of calcium, causing bones to thin, become more fragile, and more likely to break.
The DEXA test can also assess your risk for developing fractures and is effective in tracking the effects of treatment for osteoporosis and other conditions that can cause bone loss. Bone density testing is recommended for:
>> How is the test performed?
Depending on the equipment used and the parts of the body being examined, the test takes between 10 and 30 minutes.
>> What is involved in preparation for the test?
>> What do the test results mean?
The results of a DEXA bone density exam are interpreted by a radiologist and forwarded to your doctor.
Your test results will be in the form of two scores:
T score - This number shows the amount of bone you have compared to a young adult of the same gender with peak bone mass. A score above -1 is considered normal. A score between -1 and -2.5 is classified as osteopenia, the first stage of bone loss. A score below -2.5 is defined as osteoporosis. It is used to estimate your risk of developing a fracture.
Z score - This number reflects the amount of bone you have compared to other people in your age group and of the same size and gender. If it is unusually high or low, it may indicate a need for further medical tests.