Bone Density Testing

What is a Bone Density Test?

A bone density test is a simple test used to measure the strength of an individual's bones and determines the risk of fracture. An observation of any osteoporosis present can be made from this test. It uses a technology called Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry or DEXA, for short. This machine takes a picture of the bones in the spine and hip and calculates their density.

The exam is performed by trained Technologists and the resulting images are examined by a board certified Radiologist who provides a written report of findings to your physician.

How Should I Prepare?

If you are scheduled for a DEXA, arrive 15 minutes prior to your appointment and the Registration Desk of the hospital. If you are not scheduled, if you have questions, or are unable to keep your scheduled appointment, call Scheduling at (985) 730-6804. You will need a doctor's order to schedule an appointment.

Prior to the scan, you will be asked to change into a hospital gown. During the scan, you will lie below the machine which uses small amounts of X-rays to create an image of your bones. The test takes about 20 minutes to complete and is painless.

Do I Need a Bone Density Test?

Not everyone needs a bone density test. The following factors, however, may indicate a need for a bone scan. Talk to your doctor.

  • are at risk for osteoporosis
  • are near menopause
  • have broken a bone after a modest trauma
  • have a family history of osteoporosis
  • use steroids or anti-seizure medications
  • have had a period of restricted mobility for more than six months
  • are Caucasian
  • have smoked daily for an extended time period
  • have had a history of hormone use