Significance of Bone Mineral Density Scan

A bone mineral density scan is conducted to measure the density of minerals (such as calcium) in your bones using a special X-ray or computed tomography (CT) scan. This information gathered is used to estimate the strength of your bones.

As we age, bones become thinner because existing bone is broken down faster than new bone is made. Our bones lose calcium and other minerals and become lighter, less dense, and more porous. This not only makes the bones weaker, but also increases the chance of breakage. If neglected, Osteopania can lead to Osteoporosis. So, the thicker your bones are, higher would be the bone mass density, and the longer it would take to get osteoporosis. Although osteoporosis can occur in men, it is most common in women older than age 65.

Bone mineral density scan is generally recommended for those who are thought to be at increased risk for osteoporosis, such as:

  • Women over age 65 and men over age 70
  • Women under age 65 and men ages 50 - 70 who have risk factors such as:
  • A fracture in any man or woman over age 50
  • Chronic rheumatoid arthritis, chronic kidney disease, eating disorders
  • Early menopause either from natural causes or surgery
  • History of hormone treatment for prostate cancer or breast cancer
  • Smoking and drinking
  • Strong family history of osteoporosis

The results of Bone mineral density scan test are usually reported as a "T score" and "Z score."The T score compares your bone density with that of a healthy 30-year-old.The Z score compares your bone density with that of other people of your age, gender, and race. In either score, a negative value indicates you have thinner bones than the standard. The more negative the number, the higher your risk of a bone fracture.

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