Bone Density Scanning

Bone Density

Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bone to break down faster than it rebuilds. The National Osteoporosis Foundation (link to their website) reports that half of all postmenopausal women and about one quarter of men will break a bone due to osteoporosis in their lifetime. Bone density is a key indicator of Osteoporosis risk.

Bone Density Scanning is offered in our Fort Collins office by technologists trained and certified to perform this exam.

This is a noninvasive test to measure bone density. Knowing your bone density is important because you may be able to change a few things in your life that will provide a safer risk-free environment or seek necessary treatment or coaching to improve your bone density. We typically have you lie on a table fully clothed and pass a beam of low dose ionizing radiation over your lumbar spine and hips. The exam is comfortable and quick with results given at the completion of the exam, including recommendations on ways to maintain and or increase your bone density. The results are sent to your provider, who may want to discuss results in greater detail with you.

You should have this exam if you;

  • Are a post menopausal women, not taking estrogen
  • Have a personal history of fracture or are a smoker
  • Are post menopausal, over 5’7” or thin, less than 125 lbs
  • Have used depo long term or have no menstruation from a young age
  • Use medications known to cause bone loss, ie; corticosteroids, high dose thyroid replacement drugs, barbiturates, anti -seizure meds
  • Have type 1 diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease
  • Have a family history of osteoporosis
  • Have a para thyroid condition, such as hypoparathyroidism
  • Have hyperthyroidism
  • Have experienced a fracture after only mild trauma
  • Have had x-ray evidence of vertebral fracture or other signs of osteoporosis
  • Have lost more than one inch in height
  • Have rheumatoid arthritis
  • Have chronic renal and liver disease
  • Have respiratory disease
  • Have Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Have had gastric bypass surgery
  • Are a man with clinical conditions associated with bone loss

How do I prepare for this exam?

On the day of exam, eat normally. Don’t take calcium supplements for at least 24 hours prior to your exam. Wear loose comfortable clothing without zippers, belts or buttons made of metal. You may also be asked to remove some of your clothing or jewelry and to wear a gown/scrub pants we provide. If you have had a barium study or have been injected with contrast material for a CT scan or radioisotope scan you may have to wait 10 – 14 days before undergoing a DXA scan. Always inform the technologist if you think you might be pregnant. Many imaging tests are not performed while pregnant so as not to expose the fetus to radiation. 

How often is the procedure performed?

Routine evaluations every two years may be needed to appreciate any significant change in bone mineral density, (decrease or increase). Few patients, such as patients on high dose steroid medications or treatment for osteoporosis may need follow up more frequently.

Additional facts and Benefits

  • DXA bone density testing is the most accurate method available for the diagnosis of osteoporosis and is considered an accurate estimator of fracture risk
  • X-rays usually have no side effects in the typical diagnostic range for this exam