Bone Densitometry FAQ

Who should have a bone densitometry test?

  • All women over age 65
  • Postmenopausal women under age 65 suspected of having osteoporosis
  • Any person taking therapy for osteoporosis
  • Any person on or about to start on long-term glucocorticoid therapy
  • People who have had frequent fractures

How should I prepare for a bone densitometry test?

Please do not take any calcium or vitamin supplements on the day of the test. Otherwise you may eat, drink and take your medicines as you normally would. If you have had a previous bone densitometry test, please bring the results of that exam with you. The radiologist will compare the results of the new test to the previous tests. The test usually takes between 10 to 15 minutes.

What happens during the bone densitometry test?

For a bone densitometry test, you will lie on your back on a padded table. A scanning device will move above you, taking X-rays of your spine, hip or entire body.

What happens after the bone densitometry test?

A computer will calculate your test results. Test results are usually expressed as “T-scores”, which are derived from comparisons to values seen in normal adults. Healthy young women have bone densitometry T-score values between -2 and +2. Postmenopausal women with values between –1 and –2.5 are said to have low bone density. Values less than –2.5 are associated with an increased risk of fractures and/or osteoporosis. A radiologist who specializes in bone densitometry will interpret your test and call any significant findings to the doctor who ordered your exam.