A Bone Density test as is evident from its name, measures the density of your bones to screen for an onset of osteoporosis — this occurs in post-menopausal women and elderly. As we get older our bones lose some of the calcium content in them. Overtime this deficiency results in bones that are weak, fragile and prone to break or fractures. A Bone Density or DEXA scan can determine where you are on that spectrum and gives your caring physician a better idea to devise a line of action to counter that loss.
A bone density test may also be recommended by their physicians for some patients who are currently taking calcium & Vitamin D supplements in order to periodically check their progress and to alter their approach in treatment if needed.
Unlike in the past where a diagnosis of osteoporosis would be made only after a fracture or breaking a bone, a recommended bi-yearly DEXA screening for Medicare Patients keeps a sharp eye of the changes in their Bone density. This proactive and preventative approach allows care givers to address the bone loss issue before its onset or in early stages in their patients. A DEXA Scan thus may help your doctor more accurately predict your risk of breaking bones and to take measures to avert such an unfortunate scenario.
A bone density test employs X-rays to gauge the grams of calcium and other minerals present in a sample segment of a bone. The most frequently used bones for a bone density exam are the hip, spine and sometimes the forearm.
When is a Bone Density Test ordered?
Care givers use bone density scan to:
* Identify loss in bone density before you fracture a bone
* Evaluate your future risk of getting a fracture.
* Confirm an osteoporosis diagnosis
* Track progress of an osteoporosis treatment
The higher mineral content represents denser bones are. The higher the density of your bones is, the stronger they are. This means the likelihood of them breaking is less than that of a person with a low bone mass.
Bone density tests (DEXA SCAN) are not to be confused with bone scans. Bone scan which is a completely different test requires an injection beforehand and are usually used to detect cancer, fractures, infections and other abnormalities suspected in the bone.
Osteoporosis is more common in older and post-menopausal women. Men however are also at risk of developing a loss of bone density with age. Irrespective of your age and sex your doctor may recommend a bone density test if you've:
* Height Loss: A loss of height of at least 1.6 inches (4 centimeters) may indicate that a person may have compression fractures in their spine, Osteoporosis is one of the main causes for this.
* Bone Fractures: Fractures due to increased fragility may occur when a bone becomes so weak that it breaks a lot easier than healthy and strong bones. A strong cough or a sneeze have even been known to cause Fragility fractures.
* Long term Use of drugs: Extended use of certain steroid medications, (such as prednisone), may interfere and inhibit bone-rebuilding process which can lead to osteoporosis.
* Transplant Recipient: If you have received an organ or bone marrow transplant you maybe at a higher risk of osteoporosis this is due in part to anti-rejection drugs that also interfere with the bone-rebuilding process.
* A Drop in Hormone Levels: Hormone levels have been known to drop naturally in women after menopause. Certain cancer treatments may also result in a drop of women’s estrogen levels. Similarly some treatments for prostate cancer result in a reduced testosterone levels in men. This lowering of sex hormone levels weaken bone and make an individual prone to osteoporosis and bone loss.
At Radiology Center at Harding we provide Bone Density (DEXA) scan services for a wide range of post-menopausal and seniors to help them and their care providers keep track of the strength of their bones as they age and to devise a plan of action to prevent and reverse this bone loss. Call us today to schedule your bone density exam if your doctor thinks that you would benefit from Bone Density screening.