In the past, osteoporosis could only be tested after you broke a bone. By that time, bones could be quite weak. A bone density test makes it possible to detect your risk of breaking bones before the fact.
What is a bone density test?
A bone density test, also known as bone mass measurement or bone mineral density test, measures the strength and density of your bones as you approach menopause and, when the test is repeated sometime later, can 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 already fractured.
- Predict your chances of fracturing in the future.
- Determine your rate of bone loss and/or monitor the effects of treatment if the test is conducted at intervals of a year or more.
For the bone density test:
- wear comfortable clothing with no metal buttons, zippers or tabs
- do not take calcium 4 hours prior to appointment
If you have had any barium or nuclear medicine studies done, you must wait seven days before having a bone density test.
A physician referral is required for bone density testing.