Bone Health Imaging

Osteoporosis refers to a thinning of bones. This often happens in women after menopause. Banner Health provides imaging that looks at the health of the bones, including bone densitometry testing (DEXA scans) to help determine bone health and diagnose osteoporosis and other conditions.

What Is Bone Mineral Density?

Bone mineral density measures the amount of bone to determine bone strength and its ability to bear weight. It’s measured with a dual energy X-ray absorptiometry test (referred to as a DEXA scan). By measuring density, it’s possible to predict the risk of fracturing a bone in the same way that measuring blood pressure can help predict the risk of stroke.

This test cannot predict the certainty of developing a fracture. It can only predict risk. It’s also important to note that a bone density scan, or test, shouldn’t be confused with a bone scan. A bone scan is a nuclear medicine test.

Who Should Get a Bone Density Test?

Bone densitometry scans should be considered for patients who are under the age of 65 if they have the following risk factors:

  • History of fracture as an adult
  • History of fragility fracture in a close relative
  • Low body weight (under 127 pounds)
  • Use of corticosteroid therapy for more than three months
  • Estrogen deficiency at an early age (45 years or younger)

Medicare will cover bone density testing every two years for patients who are 65 years or older and who have one of the following conditions:

  • Estrogen-deficient and at risk for osteoporosis
  • Abnormalities in the vertebrae
  • Long-term use of glucocorticoid steroid therapy
  • Diagnosis of primary hyperparathyroidism
  • Use of an approved osteoporosis drug therapy

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