When to Get a Bone Density Test

Medical professionals use bone density tests to determine a patient’s osteoporosis diagnosis. Understanding this procedure can help you know whether you need it and when you need it. This guide will answer these questions and more:

  • What age should you get a bone density test?
  • Is a bone density test necessary for everyone?
  • Why do I need a bone density test?
  • When should I have a bone density test?

Bone Density Scan

What Is a Bone Density Test?

A bone density test involves the use of advanced x-ray techniques to measure bone strength. Before doctors could perform this test, they could only tell if a patient had osteoporosis when they broke a bone. Now, they can use a bone density test to look at a patient’s bone composition. This screening lets medical professionals take a proactive approach to diagnosing osteoporosis.

Types of Bone Density Tests

Technologists can perform a variety of x-ray types to test bone density. They most commonly use dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, also known as DXA or DEXA. A DEXA test for bone density takes about 10 to 30 minutes. The technologist will use DEXA to look at osteoporosis-prone bones such as your forearm bones, spine or femur. Other types of bone density tests include quantitative computed tomography (QCT), and single-energy x-ray absorptiometry (SXA).

Who Should Get a Bone Density Test?

The following factors affect whether you should get a bone density test:

  • Age: Bone density tests can benefit women over 65 and men over 70 who have a higher risk of osteoporosis due to age. Doctors generally recommend the test for people of this age when they have a moderate risk of fracture.
  • Medical history: Certain medical disorders and medications can impact your risk of developing osteoporosis. Conditions like diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease and rheumatoid arthritis may reduce bone density.
  • Other osteoporosis risk factors: A few other factors could make you more prone to osteoporosis. People with smaller frames or family histories of osteoporosis may also require a bone density test.

Reasons to Receive a Bone Density Test

Since bone density tests accurately detect a patient’s bone material, they have many uses. Doctors request these screenings for a variety of purposes, including:

  • Making an initial osteoporosis diagnosis
  • Determining the patient’s risk of bone fracture
  • Monitoring the patient’s bone density
  • Understanding an osteoporosis treatment’s effectiveness
  • Checking the progression of osteoporosis

How Often to Have a Bone Density Test During Osteoporosis Treatment

Doctors have varying opinions on how often someone should have a bone density test after their first one. Some major medical groups believe that patients don’t need more than one test in the first three years after osteoporosis diagnosis. Others recommend getting bone density tests every year or two during osteoporosis treatment. Ask your doctor to see how often they think you should receive the test.

Schedule a Bone Density Test at Health Images

At Health Images, we perform a variety of diagnostic tests, including bone density tests. Schedule your appointment today by contacting one of our locations in Colorado.