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What is a Bone Mineral Density Test?
A bone mineral density (BMD) test measures the density of minerals (such as calcium) in your bones using a special X-ray. This information is used to estimate the strength of your bones.
Bone is a living tissue. As we age, we will lose some bone mass. Bones naturally gets thinner (known as osteopaenia) as you grow older because the process of making new bone is slower than the breaking down of the existing bone. As soon as this happens, our bones lose calcium and minerals and become lighter and more porous. This results our bones to become weak and prone to fractures.
If left untreated, loss of bones mass gets further, osteopaenia leads to osteoporosis. So the thicker and stronger your bones are, the chances of getting osteoporosis is lower. Osteoporosis can occur in men and women older than age 65. Osteopaenia can occur in men and women older than age 45.
You can take steps to increase your bone density and strength and reduce your chances of having a fracture. Ways to increase bone density and strength include combination of taking calcium and vitamin D supplements with exercise (such as brisk walking), and taking medicines to improve your body’s absorption of calcium.
There are several ways to measure BMD, our specialist uses the most accurate way to measure BMD which is the Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA).
DEXA uses two different X-ray beams to estimate bone density in your spine and hip. DEXA is fast and uses very low doses of radiation. Strong bones allow less X-ray beam to pass through. The amounts of each X-ray beam that are blocked by bone and soft tissue are compared to each other.
Why Bone Mineral Density Test is Done?
A bone mineral density test is strongly suggested for:
- Men and women who are age 45 and older.
- Men and women who have hyperparathyroidism.
- Men and women who have been taking corticosteroids for a long time.
- Follow-up of how well treatment for osteoporosis is working for men and women being treated for 2 years or longer.
How does Taking Bone Mineral Density Test Feels?
Risks of Bone Mineral Density Test
During a bone mineral density (BMD) scan, you are exposed to a very low dose of radiation
Results of Bone Mineral Density Test
A bone mineral density (BMD) test measures the density of minerals (such as calcium) in your bones using a special X-ray. Results are usually available in 2 hours time.
Results of bone mineral density tests can be reported in several ways.
Your T-score is your BMD compared to the average score of a healthy 30-year-old. It is expressed as a standard deviation (SD), which is a statistical measure of how closely each person in a group is to the average (mean) of the group. The average BMD is determined by measuring the bone density of a large group of healthy 30-year-olds (young adult reference range). BMD values are then reported as a standard deviation from the mean of this reference group. Almost all 30-year-old people have a BMD value within 2 standard deviations of this mean.
- A negative (–) value indicates that you have thinner bones (lower bone density) than an average 30-year-old. The more negative the number is, the less bone density you have compared with an average 30-year-old.
- A positive (+) value indicates that your bones are thicker and stronger than an average 30-year-old.
The following table contains the World Health Organization’s definitions of osteoporosis based on bone mineral density T-scores.
|Normal:||Less than 1 standard deviation (SD) below the young adult reference range (more than –1)|
|Low bone mass (osteopaenia):||1 to 2.5 SDs below the young adult reference range (–1 to –2.5)|
|Osteoporosis:||More than 2.5 SDs below the young adult reference range (–2.5 or less)|
If your bone mineral density test result is low:
- You may have osteoporosis. Doctors usually use the lowest T-score to diagnose osteoporosis. For example, if your T-score at your spine is -3 and your T-score at your hip is -2, the spine T-score would be used to diagnosis osteoporosis.
- You have a higher-than-average chance of breaking a bone. The more negative your T-score, the greater your chances of breaking a bone during a fall or from a minor injury. Every change of 1 SD means a twofold increase in the risk of fracture at that site. For example, if you have a T-score of -1, your chances of having a broken bone are 2 times greater than if your T-score was 0.
Low BMD values may be caused by other problems, including: