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Bone densitometry: what it is and what it is for

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Bone densitometry is a diagnostic test that aims to measure the density of calcium in the bones, indicating whether there is osteoporosis or there is any risk of bone fracture. X-rays, radioactive isotopes or ultrasound can be used to carry it out, the first of all being the most widely used method. At FastlyHealwe explain what a bone densitometry is and what it is for , so that you have all the necessary information in relation to this technique.

What is bone densitometry

As we have mentioned previously, bone densitometry is a diagnostic technique that allows us to measure the density of calcium in the bones , generally using X-rays.

Bone densitometry is used to make an effective diagnosis of osteoporosis, a bone disease that is identified by a decrease in the density of the bones that consequently leads to their fragility. Thanks to bone densitometry, an adequate treatment can be given in the earliest stages of this alteration, to prevent it from evolving unfavorably; and also knowing the degree of osteoporosis we can know the risk of fractures that the patient’s bones present.

When to have a bone density scan

You should have a bone densitometry if you are in any of the following situations:

  • You have had a fracture caused by brittle bones.
  • You have a family history of osteoporosis, and you are also slim, tall, and a smoker.
  • You take any medication that favors bone mineral reduction, or you have a pathology that reduces calcium absorption such as kidney failure or rickets.
  • You are a postmenopausal woman without estrogen hormone treatment.
  • You have a disease associated with bone loss such as multiple myeloma, type 1 diabetes or a kidney or liver disorder.
  • You suffer from hyperparathyroidism, a disorder in which the parathyroid hormone is above normal levels, causing the bones to release more calcium into the blood and losing this mineral.
  • You have a genetic disease that affects bone formation, such as osteogenesis imperfecta.

What is it for and how is a bone densitometry performed?

When we want to know the calcium level and the amount of mineralization of the bone, we resort to this technique, proceeding in the medical center as follows to perform it:

  • You will access a dressing room where they will provide you with a dressing gown or give you instructions to remove all the metal elements that you carry.
  • When you are ready and with the appropriate clothing, you will go to the room where the device with which the bone densitometry is to be performed is located . You will always find an armchair or stretcher that will have the machine next to it, this having two arms, one that goes above the armchair and the other below.
  • Next, you will have to lie down in the chair and the medical staff will tell you exactly how to position yourself, depending on the area they want to measure and examine. Once you are in the proper posture, you just have to stay still and relaxed.
  • A health technician will operate the device and begin to measure the bone density of the bone, for which X-rays are sent that will come out of the lower arm of the machine and will be collected in the upper arm.
  • During this procedure you will not feel anything, it is very simple and fast. They will immediately tell you that you can withdraw because the test has ended and you just have to wait for the results.

Results analysis

When they give you the report with the results of the bone densitometry , you should mainly look at the values ​​of the following data:

* T-score is the number of standard deviations of the bone densitometry in relation to the mean value of the population aged 20 to 39 years of the same sex, that is, it is a comparison between your results and those of said population.

  • If the result of this quotient is greater than -1, it is considered normal.
  • If the score is between -1 and -2.5, the person has osteopenia, a decrease in bone density that can eventually lead to osteoporosis.
  • If the division gives a result less than -2.5, the person’s diagnosis is osteoporosis , and therefore the probability of suffering a fracture is greater.

* Z-score is the data that indicates the number of standard deviations with respect to the mean value of densitometry in the population of the same sex and age, that is, in this value your values ​​are related to those of persons of gender and in addition to your age. This score alone is not determinative and therefore we cannot diagnose osteoporosis based on this value. However, due to the progressive decrease in bone density over the years and due to the Z-score that relates the value of each person with individuals of the same sex and also age, it serves to complement the values ​​of the T- score.

Remember that it will be your specialist doctor who will tell you if you should undergo this diagnostic test to evaluate if you suffer from osteopenia or osteoporosis and in this way give you adequate treatment in order to reduce the fragility of your bones.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Bone Densitometry: what it is and what it is for , we recommend that you enter our category of Medication and medical tests .

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