Bone density tests determine if you have osteoporosis, which is a disease that causes bones to become more fragile and brittle, making them more likely to break. As most folks do not want to experience the pain associated with such, it is important to get a bone density test every so often. Before the aid of modern science and enhanced technology, osteoporosis could only be determined in the event a bone had already been broken. Unfortunately, by the time a bone breaks due to osteoporosis, the bones would be brittle and susceptible to future breaks. Thankfully, bone density tests can be performed to estimate of chance a patient could be inflicted with osteoporosis.
Digital Mammography Specialists Expound on Bone Density Tests
Generally, a bone density test uses dual energy x-rays to measure bone loss. Specifically, bone density tests measure how many grams of calcium and other bone minerals are packed into a segment of bone. The bones that are most commonly designated for testing are in the spine, hip and forearm. Results are reported in a T-score and Z-score. Your T-score is your bone density compared with what is normally expected in a healthy young adult of your sex. Specifically, it is the number of units (standard deviations), that your bone density is above or below the average. Your Z-score is the number of standard deviations above or below what is normally expected for someone of your age, weight, sex and ethnic origin.
Usefulness of Bone Density Scan Tests:
– Before any bones are broken, the test can help determine if breaks are likely.
– Evaluate the risk of possibilities of bones breaking or fracturing.
– Confirm a possible osteoporosis diagnosis.
– Monitor the treatments prescribed for osteoporosis.
When You Should Get a Bone Density Test
The denser a bone is, the higher the bone mineral content is and the least likely it is to break. Bone density exams can vary by the different bone scans. To detect fractures, cancers, infections and other bone anomalies, the bone scans will need to be injected beforehand. Osteoporosis can inflict any gender, ethnicity, or age, though it is more common in older women. You may get a referral to get a bone density exam for the listed reasons below.
– Height loss: If you have experience losing over 1½” of your height, it is more than likely due to compression fractures in the spine. Osteoporosis is often the cause.
– Bone fractures: When a bone is so fragile that it easily breaks far more than normal, fragility fractures occur. Fragility fractures can happen with a simple cough or sneeze.
– Long term prescriptions: Steroid medications taken long-term will interfere with the bone-rebuilding process, which can lead to osteoporosis.
– Transplant patients: Anti-rejection medication can contribute to the bones not rebuilding, hence patients that have organ or bone marrow transplants can be a high risk candidate to osteoporosis.
– Decreased hormone levels: After menopause, women experience a natural drop in hormones, and estrogen can also decrease with cancer treatments. In men, prostate cancer treatments can lower a man’s testosterone levels. Bones can weaken when sex hormones are lowered.