What is osteoporosis and how is it diagnosed?
Osteoporosis is a disease that lowers bone density and causes brittle bones. It affects over 25 million Americans. Annually, this disease is responsible for over 1.3 million fractures, of which 250,000 are hip fractures. Increased awareness of osteoporosis has led to more advanced methods of diagnosing and monitoring the disease.
At the Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Centers our physicians utilize bone density testing to assist in diagnosing and monitoring the treatment of osteoporosis. If your orthopaedic surgeon or primary care physician orders a bone density examination we can perform this test here in our office. It is a simple and painless examination that takes only about 15 minutes to perform. Our highly-trained radiography staff will assist and guide you through this process.
The following are frequently asked questions about bone densitometry. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please feel free contact our office and make an appointment with one of our physicians at (773) 878-6233.
What causes osteoporosis?
Bone is living tissue that is constantly being broken down and reformed. As a person grows, bones forms faster than it break down until it reaches a peak bone mass between the ages of 25 and 35. After age 35, both men and women lose bone at a greater rate than it forms, causing bone loss. Women after menopause start to lose bone at a much more rapid rate than men of the same age. This rapid bone loss is usually due to the decrease in the production of the estrogen hormone. As a greater amount of the bone is lost, the bones become porous and brittle.
Why is bone density testing available?
Bone density tests are the most practical way to accurately measure the density of your bones. The examination estimates the amount of bone mineral content in specific areas of your body, including the spine, hip and forearm, and in the total body. A physician assesses the risk factors and will review the results of a Bone Mineral Density test. When bone density tests are repeated over time, they can help your doctor track your rate of bone loss.
How is the bone density test done?
A Bone Density test is a very simple and painless test. You will be asked to lay still during the test. An arm will pass over the region of your body being measured. A dual-energy beam of x-ray passes through your body and is measured by a detector in the arm. This technology is called Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry or DEXA. The Eclipse(tm) bone densitometer works by measuring the number of x-rays that are absorbed by the bones in your body. The two x-ray energies allow the machine to tell the difference between bone and soft tissue, giving a very accurate estimation of bone density.
Is a bone density testing the same as a bone scan?
No. Often confused with a nuclear medicine bone scan, a bone density test is faster and does not require a radionuclide injection.
How long does the exam take?
Please allow 15 to 30 minutes for your scheduled appointment.
How much radiation is involved?
The amount of radiation from a typical bone density test is only a fraction of that received from a standard chest X-ray. Or, in other words, it is comparable to the amount received on a transcontinental airline flight. Patients should always inform the technologist if there is any chance of pregnancy.
Are there any special preparations required?
We ask that you wear comfortable clothing on the date of your examination. Other than that, there are no special preparations required for this simple test.