Do I Need a Bone Density Test?
Your doctor may recommend a bone density exam if you meet any of these criteria:
- You’re a post-menopausal woman who is not taking estrogen or who is taller than 5 feet 7 inches or less than 125 pounds
- You had a hip fracture
- You broke any bone after only a mild injury, like a fall from standing height
- You have a family history of osteoporosis
- You had an X-ray that showed a vertebral (spine) fracture or other signs of osteoporosis
- You smoke or used to smoke
- You have a thyroid or parathyroid condition, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, liver disease or kidney disease
- You take medications that cause bone loss, including corticosteroids such as prednisone, anti-seizure medications such as Dilantin and certain barbiturates, or high-dose thyroid replacement drugs
Before Your DEXA Scan
Don’t take a calcium supplement for at least 24 hours before a bone density test. To make sure your appointment goes smoothly, follow any other instructions you’ll receive after scheduling the exam.
During Your Exam
You’ll lie on a padded table. Above it, you’ll see an X-ray imaging device. (There’s no tunnel, unlike an MRI or CT scanner.) The device slowly moves over your spine, hip and pelvis, using a very low dose of radiation to take images of your bones.
Your exam may take 10 to 20 minutes. Afterward, you can return to your usual daily activities right away.
Getting Your Results
Test results will likely appear in your MyChart patient portal within 24 hours. You may see them before your doctor has a chance to review and explain them. Reach out to your doctor with any questions about your next steps.