Following a comprehensive medical assessment, your doctor may recommend that you have your bone mass measured. Bone mineral density (BMD) tests measure bone density in the spine, wrist, and/or hip (the most common sites of fractures due to osteoporosis), while others measure bone in the heel or hand. These tests are painless, noninvasive, and safe. Bone density tests can:
- Detect low bone density before a fracture occurs.
- Confirm a diagnosis of osteoporosis if you have already fractured
- Predict your chances of fracturing in the future
- Determine your rate of bone loss and/or monitor the effects of treatment if the test is conducted at intervals of a year or more.
To detect for signs of osteoporosis accurately, doctors use a special kind of x-ray technology called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, or DEXA.
DEXA is a short painless procedure that measures bone mineral density (BMD) of the lower spine and hips.
A DEXA procedure can be performed in about 20 minutes.
The results of the test will be interpreted by a radiologist who will discuss the findings with your primary care physician.