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What Is a Bone Density Test?

A bone density test, also known as dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry or DEXA scan, is a scan that uses low doses of x-rays to analyze the amount of calcium and other minerals in your bones. Commonly used for the diagnosis of bone loss, osteopenia, and osteoporosis, bone density testing is a very quick and painless exam. 

A bone density test or DEXA scan is important because it can:

  • Predict a person’s chances of breaking a bone
  • Prevent future bone fractures by detecting low bone density
  • Confirm a diagnosis of osteoporosis or osteopenia
  • Detect whether a person’s bone density is increasing, decreasing, or remaining stable
  • Monitor a patient’s response to treatments

What to Expect During a Bone Density Test

The most common method of bone density testing is called a DEXA scan. During the test, you’ll lie down for 3 to 10 minutes while a machine scans your body. Bone density measurements are taken at your heel, spine, hip, hand, or wrist.

A DEXA scan should be performed every two years if you are 50 or older. If your DEXA scan results show a negative T-score between -1.5 and -2.49, or you have any osteoporosis risk factors, then you should speak with your provider about more frequent bone density testing.

When to Schedule Your First Bone Density Test

If you are 65 and older with normal bone mass or mild bone loss, you should schedule a bone density test. If you’re younger than 65 but past menopause, watch for osteoporosis risk factors like:

  • Bone fractures due to fragile bones
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Smoking
  • Alcoholism
  • A history of osteoporosis in a parent
  • A body weight less than 127 pounds

Contact Your Provider About For a DEXA Scan in Phoenix, AZ

While we do not offer DEXA scans in office, our Women’s Health Arizona providers can refer you to bone health specialist. Contact us and request an appointment with one of our many women’s healthcare providers in the Greater Phoenix area today!

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