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Professional Radiology and Outpatient Imaging Services

Procedure Prep - Bone Density

Can I eat or drink before my exam?

Yes, however, do not take vitamins, calcium supplements or antacids for two days prior to your exam or on the day of your exam.

Is there any preparation on my part prior to my appointment?

If your previous imaging was not done at one of our locations, you may be asked to contact your former provider and request that your film be sent to us for a comparison study.

What should I bring to my appointment?

  • Your insurance card and a valid photo ID.
  • Please arrive 15 minutes early to complete registration.

Let us know about any of the following:

  • Hip replacement or any type of lumbar spine surgery
  • Any nuclear medicine contrast studies (within the past three weeks)
  • Any barium studies (within the past week)
  • Pregnancy - known or possible

What should I wear to my examination?

Please wear comfortable clothing that does not have zippers or other metal fasteners. Belt buckles, metal or thick plastic buttons and metal jewelry will need to be removed from the spine and hip area prior to your bone densitometry exam.

How long will my examination last?

Bone density exams typically take 30-45 minutes.

How does the procedure work?

Before the exam starts, the technologist will enter your name, age, weight and ethnicity into the computer. This information is used to compare your results with a normal reference population. During the bone densitometry exam, you will lie on your back on a padded table. As the exam progresses, the technologist will position your arms and legs. A detector will slowly move above your body to capture the images. Images are taken of two different areas susceptible to fracture or other bone damage, usually the hip and spine. For the best quality images, you will be asked to remain as still as possible during the exam. If you have metallic orthopedic devices in your spine or hip, your forearm or heel may be evaluated instead of the area containing metal. The information obtained during the exam will be used by your physician to evaluate bone status and fracture risk.

Is the examination painful?

No. The procedure is painless.

How will I receive my bone densitometry results?

A Board Certified Radiologist (a physician who specializes in interpreting diagnostic images) or a Physician Assistant will study the images from your examination and send a report to your physician. Your readings will be compared to reference readings taken from adults of your gender while at their peak bone mass. The result of this comparison is called a T-score, which tells you and your healthcare provider how your bone density results compare across a range. This score indicates the risk of fracture.

T-scores indicate the risk of fracture:

  • 0 to -1 is normal
  • -1 to -2.5 is osteopenia
  • -2.5 indicates osteoporosis