What is a bone mineral densitometry exam?
A bone mineral densitometry study or BMD, is used to detect a disease called osteoporosis and to assess fracture risk. Bone density is a medical term normally referring to the amount of mineral matter per square centimeter of bones. Osteoporosis is a decrease of the mineral in your bones that can lead to weak bones and fractures. The bone mineral densitometer uses low dose x-rays to produce images of the spine and hip. The spine and hip are measured because osteoporotic fractures occur most often in these areas. A computer determines how much bone mineral is present. The radiation exposure is approximately one-tenth that of a chest x-ray.
Can I eat or drink before my exam and what should I wear to my examination?
Yes, however, do not take calcium supplements for two hours prior to your exam. Please wear comfortable clothing that does not have zippers or other metal fasteners. Belt buckles, metal or thick plastic buttons and metal jewellery will need to be removed from the spine and hip area prior to your bone densitometry exam.
How does the procedure work and how long will my examination last?
Before the exam starts, the Medical Radiation Technologist will ask you to complete a questionnaire. Your exact age, weight and height must be recorded to ensure correct results. You will lie on your back on a padded table and your spine and hip will be positioned for the images. The procedure does not cause pain for most people. Patients who are already experiencing back or hip pain may be uncomfortable during the exam. The exam lasts approximately 30 minutes.
How will I receive my bone densitometry results?
The pictures are reported by our in house Radiologist. The results are forwarded to your doctor.
Indications for BMD Testing
Older Adults (age ≥ 50 years)
• All women and men age ≥ 65 years
• Menopausal women, and men aged 50-64 years with clinical risk factors for fracture:
– Fragility fracture after age 40
– Other high-risk medication use
– Parental hip fracture
– Vertebral fracture or osteopenia identified on X-ray
– Current smoking
– High alcohol intake
– Low body weight (< 60 kg) or major weight loss (>10% of weight at age 25 years)
– Rheumatoid arthritis
– Other disorders strongly associated with osteoporosis such as primary hyperparathyroidism, type 1 diabetes, osteogenesis imperfecta, uncontrolled hyperthyroidism, hypogonadism or premature menopause (< 45 years), Cushing’s disease, chronic malnutrition or malabsorption, chronic liver disease, COPD and chronic inflammatory conditions (e.g., inflammatory bowel disease)
Younger Adults (age < 50 years)
• Fragility fracture
• Prolonged use of glucocorticoids
• Hypogonadism or premature menopause
• Malabsorption syndrome
• Primary hyperparathyroidism
• Other disorders strongly associated with rapid bone loss and/or fracture
Don’t forget to ask your doctor if you are a candidate for a BMD test
Please tell the Medical Radiation Technologist if it is possible that you are pregnant
Please remember to bring your Ontario Health Card to every appointment