Bone Density Testing

Osteoporosis affects 25 million Americans, and we want to help you avoid this disease by taking preventative measures. A bone density test can detect osteoporosis in its early stage, so we can help you get proper treatment.

Offered at: Johnston Health Ambulatory Imaging

What is a Bone Density Test?

A bone density test uses an enhanced form of x-ray technology to measure bone loss and mineral density. At Johnston Health, we use a DEXA machine, which sends low-dose x-rays through the bones. This gets absorbed both by soft tissue and by bone, and the two measurements are compared to determine bone mineral density.

Bone density tests are primarily used to diagnose osteoporosis, which is most common in women who have gone through menopause, but can also affect younger women and men. Osteoporosis is caused by a lack of calcium and protein in the bone, making the bone weak and fragile and often causing pain to the patient. Most bone density tests are done to the spine, hips and wrists, which are the most common sites of fractures due to osteoporosis.

What to Expect

During your bone density test, you will be asked to lie on an exam table while the x-rays are taken with the DEXA machine. Depending on the area being examined, you may be asked to remove some or all of your clothes and to wear a hospital gown. You may also be asked to remove jewelry, dental hardware and eyeglasses. Most exams take about 30 minutes.

How to Prepare

Bone density tests are very simple and require little preparation. In order to obtain the most accurate results, you will be asked NOT to take any calcium supplements for 24 hours before the exam. Otherwise, you may eat normally the day of the exam. Please bring a list of all current medications and dosage with you to the exam.

Click below for complete preparation instructions, and be sure to follow any individual instructions from your physician.