- Osteoporosis Slideshow Pictures
- Super Foods for Your Bones Slideshow Pictures
- Take the Osteoporosis Quiz
- Patient Comments: Bone Density Scan - Experience
- Find a local Rheumatologist in your town
- Bone density scan facts
- What is osteoporosis?
- How does osteoporosis occur?
- What is bone mineral density (BMD)?
- Who invented the bone density scan?
- Who performs bone density scans?
- Where is a bone density test done?
- What information is on a DXA report?
- Why is bone mineral density measurement important?
- What is the relationship between BMD and fracture risk?
- Who should have BMD testing?
- How is BMD measured?
- What are other methods of measuring BMD?
- How often should DXA scans be repeated to monitor treatment?
- What is the cost of DXA?
- What about the accuracy of BMD testing in the doctor's office using smaller equipment?
Quick GuideWhat Is Osteoporosis? Treatment, Symptoms, Medication
Who invented the bone density scan?
The bone density scan was invented by the late John R. Cameron (1922-2005), professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He earned a PhD in physics. He invented bone densitometry in the late 1960s. Bone densitometry, which uses precise, very small radiation measurements to determine the mineral content of bone, was one of his many important contributions to medical physics.
Who performs bone density scans?
Bone density scans, or DXA scans, are performed by a trained technician using a DXA machine. The results are then interpreted by a physician. Many different specialist interpret bone density scans, including radiologists, endocrinologists, rheumatologists, gynecologists, and internists.
Where is a bone density test done?
What information is on a DXA report?
There is some variation in DXA reports depending on the facility performing the test. All reports should include the following:
- The date of the test, location, and medical equipment used for the test (manufacturer and model of the densitometer)
- The reason the test was performed
- The overall diagnosis (normal bone density, osteopenia, or osteoporosis) based on the results of the scan
- It should mention the results of the test at each site tested. The hip and lumbar spine are always tested. Many medical facilities also measure bone density at the forearm. The bone density is usually reported with three different numbers. First, the actual bone density is reported. This is measured in grams per centimeter squared (g/cm2). Because the exact bone density varies based on the manufacturer and model of the densitometer, the bone density is also reported as a T-score and a Z-score. The T-score is a measure of how dense a patient's bone is compared to a normal, healthy 30-year-old adult. The Z-score is a measure of how dense a patient's bone is compared to the average person of the same age and gender.
- Comparison of the bone density to any prior tests performed at the same medical facility
- Many reports include a calculation estimate of the patient's risk of bone fracture based on the results of the bone density scan. This is reported as the risk over the following 10 years of breaking a bone.
- Some reports also include a vertebral fracture assessment, which uses the DXA to see if there are any bones in the spine that have already fractured.
- A notation suggesting how long before a follow-up test is needed