Bone Density Test Results


Have you undergone Densitometry and had your bone density test results explained to you? Bone density test, or densitometry, is a type of medical test that helps determine whether a person has osteoporosis or is at risk of developing such disease. It is a painless and quick procedure that is recommended at least once for women over 65 years old. After the procedure, the attending physician will be provided with the bone density test results and will interpret it for the patient.

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What is a bone density test?

Bone density test, also widely known as DXA scan (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry), is considered as the most accurate medical test for bone density. It can detect even 1% of bone loss unlike regular x-ray. The procedure itself lasts at least 10 minutes and the radiation level is not as high as the standard x-ray scan.

Bone density test results show how much grams of calcium and other bone minerals are stored in one bone segment. It is used to identify any decrease in the bone density, to determine if you are at risk of any broken bones, to confirm diagnosis of an osteoporosis, and to monitor an osteoporosis treatment.

Who should take the bone density test?

According to the guidelines given by the National Osteoporosis Foundation, women whose age is over 65 and those who are postmenopausal should take the test. Women who are on hormone replacement therapy and considering engaging in other therapies should also undergo this said test.

How is the bone density measured?

There are two types of DXA equipments- the central device and the peripheral device. The central device is a large equipment that is used to measure bone density at the hip and spine area, while the peripheral device is small and portable and used to measure bone density at the wrist, finger, and foot.

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During the scan, low dose x-ray beams are directed to the bones for scanning. Two distinct energies will go through each peak: one at the soft tissues and the other by the bones. Then the scanner will measure how much radiation has passed through each peak. After which, it will send information to the computer then measurements will be compared to the normal bone density of a healthy person depending on the age and gender.

How to interpret bone density test results

Usually a qualified physician will interpret the results, but for better understanding here is a quick view. The bone density test results have two different reports, the T-score and the Z-score.

The T-score report will show your bone density measurements compared with the normal bone density of a healthy adult of the same gender.

• A T-score with above -1 means that you have a normal bone density level.

• A T-score between -1 and -2.5 means that your bone density is below normal and it might be a sign of an osteopenia and may also lead into osteoporosis.

• A T-score below -2.5 indicates osteoporosis.

Bear in mind that these interpretations are dependent on race.

The Z-score report, meanwhile, shows deviations of above or below the bone density level from an expected bone density according to a normal person’s age, sex, race, and weight. This report is useful for it helps determine the type of osteoporosis and the causes for the abnormal bone loss. A Z-score of less than -1.5 will show that other factors contribute to the bone loss rather than menopause and aging. This way, the doctor will try to determine the underlying cause so that the condition can be treated and bone loss will be stopped.

Bone density test results are quite accurate that they really help determine whether a person has osteoporosis or is about to have it. It requires no anesthesia, uses low doses of radiation, and is quick and noninvasive. However, Medicare only allows reimbursement for this procedure if you are at risk of osteoporosis, is postmenopausal, has primary hyperthyroidism, spinal abnormalities, and if you are undergoing long term corticosteroid therapy.

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