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Bone Density Test

What is a bone density test?
Why would a doctor recommend a bone density test?
What does a bone density test involve?
How long is the recovery after a bone density test?

What is a bone density test?

A bone density test uses X-rays to show if a person's bones have lost tissue and minerals. It is a common test for evaluating osteoporosis, a condition which causes bones to become less dense and weaken. The most common, and accurate, bone density test is dual X-ray absorptiometry.

Why would a doctor recommend a bone density test?

A doctor may recommend a bone density test for anyone at risk for osteoporosis, even if the person has no symptoms of the condition. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that any woman 65 or older has a bone density test. Early detection of osteoporosis can help keep the condition from getting worse.

A doctor may perform several bone density tests during the course of a patient's treatment, to see how the bones are reacting to the treatment.

What does a bone density test involve?

There are several different kinds of bone density tests, including ultrasound and CT (computed tomography) scans. Dual X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) is considered the most accurate test.

A DEXA scan takes 10 to 15 minutes and causes no pain. You lie on a cushioned table as the scanning machine passes over your body without touching you. The scanner can measure bone density over your entire body, but a scan often concentrates on the bones that are most likely to break because of osteoporosis. This includes the spine, the hip, and the bones of the wrist and forearm.

How long is the recovery after a bone density test?

You may return home after the test and resume your normal activities.

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