How the Test is Performed
Bone density testing can be done several different ways.
The most common and accurate way uses a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan. DEXA uses low-dose x-rays. (You receive more radiation with a chest x-ray.)
How to Prepare for the Test
If you are or could be pregnant, tell your health care provider before this test is done.
Bone mineral density (BMD) tests are used to:
- Diagnose bone loss and osteoporosis
- See how well osteoporosis medicine is working
- Predict your risk of future bone fractures
Women under age 65 and men ages 50 to 70 are at increased risk of osteoporosis if they have:
- Chronic rheumatoid arthritis, chronic kidney disease, eating disorders
- Early menopause (either from natural causes or surgery)
- History of hormone treatment for prostate cancer or breast cancer
- Strong family history of osteoporosis
- Taking thyroid hormone replacement
- Three or more drinks of alcohol a day on most days
Current practice recommends BMD retesting every 1 or 2 years.