You may have heard about bone density testing or scanning but how do you know if it’s a test you need?
For women, when our estrogen levels decrease as we age, bone reabsorption begins to outpace the formation of new bone, which can lead to Osteoporosis. At The Woman’s Group, we offer the DEXA scan (or Dual – Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) for our perimenopausal and postmenopausal patients. DEXA is today’s established standard for measuring bone mineral density (BMD), or more commonly stated as bone density.
The DEXA scan uses very low doses of radiation (10% of radiation used in traditional chest x-ray) to measure bone density. The DXA machine sends a thin, invisible beam of low-dose x-rays with two distinct energy peaks through the bones being examined. One peak is absorbed mainly by soft tissue and the other by bone. The soft tissue amount can be subtracted from the total and what remains is a patient’s bone mineral density. DXA machines feature special software that compute and display the bone density measurements on a computer monitor.
With the results of this test, we can ascertain if our patient’s bone density is appropriate and treat osteoporosis if present.
Bone density testing is strongly recommended if you:
- are a menopausal woman and not taking estrogen.
- have a personal or maternal history of hip fracture or smoking.
- are a post-menopausal woman who is tall (over 5 feet 7 inches) or thin (less than 125 pounds).
- are a man with clinical conditions associated with bone loss.
- use medications that are known to cause bone loss, including corticosteroids such as Prednisone, various anti-seizure medications such as Dilantin and certain barbiturates, or high-dose thyroid replacement drugs.
- have type 1 (formerly called juvenile or insulin-dependent) diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease or a family history of osteoporosis.
- have high bone turnover, which shows up in the form of excessive collagen in urine samples.
- have a thyroid condition, such as hyperthyroidism.
- have a parathyroid condition, such as hyperparathyroidism.
- have experienced a fracture after only mild trauma.
- have had x-ray evidence of vertebral fracture or other signs of osteoporosis.
A bone density test is a quick and painless procedure. Routine evaluations every two years may be needed to see a significant change in bone mineral density, decrease or increase. Some patients, such as patients on high dose steroid medication, may need follow-up at six months.
If you have any questions about Osteoporosis or Bone Density Testing, please talk to your doctor at The Woman’s Group about what may be right for you.