Bone densitometry is a radiological test used to diagnose osteoporosis by measuring bone loss. Bone densitometry is referred to by several different names, including bone-density test, bone-mineral density test and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA or DXA) scan. This is a radiological test that is important for women’s health, and one that is often scheduled with a mammogram. Performing bone-density scanning is part of our mission at Houston Methodist to treat the whole woman.
Bone densitometry is important to your health because the higher the density, the stronger the bone is. As bone density decreases, the risk of a fracture increases. A diagnosis of osteoporosis means you are at risk of breaking a bone.
What to Expect During a Bone Densitometry Test
Depending on the setting and whether you are having other tests performed, you may not need to remove your clothing. The test uses a small amount of radiation (less than a chest X-ray), and usually takes less than 15 minutes.
The Meaning of the Results
The results of your bone densitometry scan will compare your bone mineral density values with those of a normal 30-year-old (known as a T-Score) and with an age and body type matched normal person (Z-score). When comparing your bone density scores, a lower score will indicate that you have lower bone density than normal. A T-score of -1.0 and above is considered normal, a score between -1.0 and -2.5 is considered low (referred to as osteopenia), and a score -2.5 or below is considered osteoporosis. Your doctor will explain the tests, and what they mean for you individually. It may be that your doctor will want you to repeat these tests periodically to see how things are changing over time, or your doctor may discuss treatment that can help reduce your risk of breaking a bone.
Houston Methodist provides bone densitometry at the following convenient locations: