As we age, our bones gradually lose their density and strength. This can lead to various problems, including osteoporosis, condition in which bones become brittle and more prone to fractures. While this is a common problem among older adults, there are steps you can take to prevent it or minimize its impact. One of these steps is bone densitometry testing. LMA offers comprehensive bone densitometry testing for patients of all ages. This article will explore the importance of bone densitometry testing and why it matters for overall health.
What Is Bone Densitometry Testing?
Bone densitometry testing is a diagnostic test that measures the density of your bones. The test is usually performed using a specialized machine called a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scanner. This machine uses low-dose X-rays to measure the amount of calcium and other minerals in your bones. Based on the test results, your doctor can assess the strength of your bones and determine if you are at risk of osteoporosis.
Why Is Bone Densitometry Testing Important?
There are several reasons why bone densitometry testing is important, particularly for older adults. Here are a few:
Diagnosis of Osteoporosis: If you have osteoporosis or are at risk of developing it, bone densitometry testing can help diagnose the condition. This is important because osteoporosis often goes undiagnosed until a fracture occurs. By detecting osteoporosis early, you can take steps to prevent fractures and other complications.
Monitoring Bone Density: If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, bone densitometry testing can be used to monitor the density of your bones over time. This can help your doctor determine whether your treatment is working or adjustments must be made.
Assessing Fracture Risk: Bone densitometry testing can also assess your risk of fractures. This can help your doctor develop a plan to prevent fractures and other complications.
Who Should Get Bone Densitometry Testing?
Bone densitometry testing is recommended for certain groups, particularly older adults and those with certain risk factors for osteoporosis. Here are a few examples:
Women over 65: Women are at higher risk of osteoporosis than men, particularly after menopause. Therefore, women over the age of 65 should get bone densitometry testing.
Men over 70: Men are less likely to develop osteoporosis than women, but they can still be at risk. Men over the age of 70 should consider getting bone densitometry testing.
People with certain medical conditions: Certain medical conditions can increase your risk of osteoporosis, including rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, and hyperthyroidism. If you have one of these conditions, your doctor may recommend bone densitometry testing.
What Can You Expect During A Bone Densitometry Test?
If your doctor recommends bone densitometry testing, here is what you can expect:
Preparation: You may be asked to avoid calcium supplements for a certain period before the test. You must also wear loose, comfortable clothing without metal buttons or zippers.
Procedure: During the test, you will lie on a table while the DXA scanner passes over your body. The scanner emits a small amount of radiation, considered safe and minimal. The entire procedure typically takes about 15-30 minutes.
Bone densitometry testing is an important diagnostic tool for assessing bone density and detecting osteoporosis. By getting regular bone densitometry testing, you can take steps to prevent bone loss and reduce your risk of fractures. If you are on high risk of osteoporosis, talk to healthcare professional about whether bone densitometry testing is right for you. Additionally, healthy habits such as getting enough calcium and vitamin D, exercising regularly, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can help promote bone health and prevent osteoporosis.