Bone Densitometry

What clinics perform bone densitometry?

Cedar Park, Georgetown, Kyle, Quarry Lake, Rock Creek Plaza, San Marcos, Southwest Medical Village, Southwood, Westlake, William Cannon, Wilson Parke, Women’s Imaging Center

Do I need a referral from a medical provider to schedule a bone densitometry exam?

Referrals are not required for bone densitometry exams unless you are insured under Medicare or Medicaid. However, you will be asked to give a medical provider’s name when filling out paper work so that we can send the results of your exam to your provider.

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis occurs when bones lose their strength and density, and become fragile and fracture (break) more easily because of calcium loss. This disease particularly affects women in their middle and later years but is also prevalent in older men. It is quite different from osteoarthritis which affects joint surfaces.

What is osteopenia?

A condition of moderate loss of bone density or strength. A woman with osteopenia has a risk of broken bones that higher than normal, but not as high as with the more severe condition, osteoporosis.

What is the difference between osteopenia and osteoporosis?

These words are both related to bone loss. The real difference between the two is related to how much bone is actually lost. Osteopenia is when you have had some bone loss but not as much as with osteoporosis. If you have osteopenia, your risk of breaking a bone is increased, but not as much as with osteoporosis. If you have osteopenia you should be talking to your doctor about what you can do to maintain your bone strength and prevent fractures.

What are the risk factors for osteoporosis?

The most reliable risk factors are a family history of osteoporosis, early menopause, (occurring before the age of 45), a thin, small body, and being Caucasian or Asian. Other equally relevant factors are smoking, a high intake of alcohol and caffeine, taking certain drugs like corticosteroids for long periods, and diseases like an overactive thyroid or anorexia nervosa.

What tests are available to assess the risk of developing osteoporosis?

Several tests are available for measuring bone density, the most common and reliable being dual energy x-ray bone densitometry (DEXA). The DEXA method measures bone density at the sites of greatest concern – the hip and the spine – using low dosage radiation.

What does a bone density study show?

A bone density is a test used to show if your bones have loss mass or bone density. Moderate bone loss is called osteopenia, severe bone loss is called osteoporosis. These conditions can place you at an increased risk of fractures of your bones. The bone density scan can accurately predict who is at increased risk for fractures and be used to accurately follow those with osteoporosis for worsening or improvement.

Why don’t you scan the area in my body that hurts, i.e., my neck?

Bone densitometry is used to measure the density of bone in areas that are known to lose bone density first. We usually scan one hip and the lumbar spine (the lower back). We are not able to tell if there is something wrong with your bones or muscles. We are scanning the area only to calculate the amount of bone loss.

Why only scan the lower back and one hip? Why not both hips, my upper back and/or my neck?

We scan the areas that have been shown to show the most bone loss in patients. The measurements that are taken are then compared to a set standard of numbers and your exam will be classified as Normal, Osteopenia or Osteoporosis.

How do I understand my bone densitometry results?

Bone densitometry is used to show if your bones have lost density or strength. Osteoporosis occurs when bones lose their strength and density; they become fragile and fracture more easily. Moderate bone loss is called osteopenia, severe bone loss is osteoporosis. Your doctor will be sent a copy of the report and can discuss the results of your exam with you and answer any specific questions you may have.

Can you tell me if I have arthritis? Can you tell me if I have a ruptured disc?

No, we can not tell you if you have arthritis or a ruptured disc. This test is measuring how dense your bones are in order to calculate the amount of bone loss you may have.

How often should scans be done?

A single scan can predict the chance of a fracture. However, if some patients continue to have risk factors or take medications (steroids), then a second scan may be done 2-3 years later.

Are calcium supplements necessary?

Post-menopausal women should have at least 1300mg of calcium each day (three glasses of milk or equivalent). Women who have difficulty consuming this amount should take a calcium supplement.

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