Who Should Get a Bone Density Scan?

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Bone density testing is used to assess the strength of the bones and the probability of fracture in persons at risk for osteoporosis. The test, referred to as bone densitometry or bone mineral density scan (BMD), is a simple, noninvasive procedure that takes just minutes.

Unlike a bone scan, bone densitometry testing does not involve the administration of radioactive contrast material into the bloodstream. The most commonly used test is known as a dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan, and it can be performed with devices that measure bone density in the hip and spine, or smaller peripheral devices to measure bone density in the wrist, heel, or finger. The central bone density device is used in hospitals and medical offices, while the smaller peripheral device is available in some drugstores and in screening sites in the community. The DEXA scan involves a much smaller radiation exposure than a standard chest X-ray.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/6/2015