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Bone Density Test

Osteoporosis is a disease that causes weak, thinning bones. This leaves the bones at greater risk of breaking. Your doctor can help you determine your risk of developing osteoporosis. They will ask about your personal and family medical history. You may have a bone density test.

What is a bone density test?

A bone density test is also known as bone mass measurement or bone mineral density test. It measures the strength and density of your bones. It is often done as a woman gets close to menopause. The test can be repeated later and help determine how quickly you are losing bone mass and density. These tests are painless, noninvasive, and safe. They compare your bone density with standards for what is expected in someone of your age, gender, and size, and to the optimal peak bone density of a healthy young adult of the same gender. Bone density testing can help to:

  • Detect low bone density before a fracture occurs

  • Confirm a diagnosis of osteoporosis if you have a fracture

  • Predict your chances of fracturing in the future

  • Determine your rate of bone loss or monitor the effects of treatment if the test is conducted at intervals of a year or more

What are some reasons for having a bone density test?

If you have 1 or more of the following risk factors for osteoporosis, you may want to consider having a bone density test:

  • You have already had a bone fracture that may be the result of thinning bones.

  • Your mother, grandmother, or another close relative had osteoporosis or bone fractures.

  • Over a long period of time, you have taken medicine that speeds up bone loss. These include some corticosteroids. It also includes some anti-seizure medicines.

  • You have low body weight, a slight build, or a light complexion.

  • You have a history of cigarette smoking or heavy drinking.

Online Medical Reviewer: Louise Cunningham RN BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Turley Jr PA-C
Online Medical Reviewer: Thomas N Joseph MD
Date Last Reviewed: 12/1/2020
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