bone density testing

Bone Density testing allows physicians at LIMPA to estimate the density of your skeletal system, ultimately reducing your chance of fracture. Testing helps us determine whether a patient has normal bone density, low bone density or osteoporosis. There are two methods of testing; both are non-invasive and painless.

non-invasive & painless

Test of the hip and spine typically use a central DEXA machine to diagnose low bone density. Hip and spine test are the industry standard since these bones are most likely to be fractured in individuals with osteoporosis or low bone density.

Damage to the hip and spine holds the potential to be debilitating and incredibly painful for patients. The density of the hip and spine also reveals the likelihood of future fractures in other bones throughout the body.

The screening test, also known as a Peripheral Test, measures bone density in the lower arm or heel. This test helps identify patients who need further bone density testing.


At LIMPA, we report bone density test using T-scores. Results reveal whether your bone density is higher or lower than a healthy individual of the same age. A T-score of -2.5 or lower is considered osteoporosis. Our physicians closely analyze results, consulting with each patient after testing to develop an appropriate treatment plan.


Bone density tips

Bone density testing requires virtually no preparation. On the day of the exam patients may eat normally, but are asked to avoid any calcium supplements for at least 24 hours before the exam. Patients should wear loose, comfortable clothing and avoid any articles featuring zippers, belts or buttons made of metal. The technician may ask the patient to remove some, or all of their clothing and wear a gown throughout the exam. Patient’s may also have to remove jewelry, dental devices, eye glasses or any other metal object that may interfere with imaging. If there is any possibility the patient is pregnant, they should immediately inform their technician. Imaging tests are not performed during pregnancy to prevent radiation related illnesses from occurring following birth.
A central DEXA device is used to conduct bone density test. The device can measure bone density in the hip and spine. They typically have a large, flat table and an “arm” suspended overhead. The machine sends a thin, undetectable beam of x-rays through the bones. There are two distinct energy peaks, one is absorbed mainly by soft tissue, while the other is captured in the bone. The soft tissue amount is subtracted from the total, and the remaining value represents the patient’s bone mineral density. During the exam, patients must remain very still and may be asked to hold their breath for a few seconds to reduce the possibility of producing a blurred image. The technician will provide patients with a questionnaire to determine whether their medical history will influence the results.
Bone density testing is a quick, painless procedure. Routine evaluations every two years may be necessary to track relevant changes in bone mineral density. Very few patients require a follow-up after six months. A radiologist will interpret the patient’s results and send back a detailed report. Results are presented in two scores: T Score and Z scores. T Scores show the amount of bone the patient has compared to a young adult of the same gender at peak bone mass. Scores above -1 are considered normal, while anything below -2.5 points to signs of osteoporosis. Results between -1 and -2.5 are classified as osteopenia. Z Scores compare the amount of bone the patient has with individuals of the same age group, size, and gender.


A bone density test reveals whether your bones have loss mass or density. Any moderate bone loss is considered osteopenia, while severe bone loss is known as osteoporosis. Both conditions place you at an increased risk of bone fracture. Testing accurately predicts if you’re at risk for fracture and can be used to follow the progression of osteoporosis.
Scans are an excellent tool to predict the chance of fracture, but if some patients still demonstrate risks, a second scan may be recommended two to three years later.
Both conditions are related to bone loss. The biggest difference between the two is how much bone is lost. Osteopenia involves some bone loss, but not nearly as much as osteoporosis. There is an increased risk of fracture with osteopenia; however, the chances are much greater with osteoporosis. If you’re diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis, consult with your doctor about what you can do to maintain bone strength.
A bone density test shows whether your bones have loss density or strength. A medical professional at LIMPA will send you a copy of your report after testing and discuss the results of your exam with you. Reports describe bone density levels using a T-score. The lower the score, the weaker your bones are and the greater your risk of fracture. You may address any question or concern about your results with your doctor.

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