Bone Mineral Density (BMD) scan, also known as a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DeXA) scan, is done for patients of varied ages who display osteoporosis risk. It can also help detect early loss of bone mass. The use of DeXA in determining bone mass is internationally regarded as the gold standard, and is a simple and painless scan that measures bone calcium content to help detect any loss of bone mass. The measurements obtained will subsequently be used for the diagnosis of osteoporosis and relevant treatment pathways.
Individuals who display any osteoporosis risk are commonly sent for a BMD scan. This may include younger patients who have had a fracture from a simple fall. Routinely, patients who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis are also required to regularly obtain a BMD scan to assess their response to treatment.
Osteoporosis is a bone condition where there is decreased density as compared to normal bones. This reduction in density translates into a decrease in bone strength, meaning bones are weaker, more fragile and more susceptible to fractures.
You may have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis if you:
- Are 65 years old and above with a family history of osteoporosis.
- Are thin, small-framed, or very underweight.
- Are a woman who developed early menopause or has had her ovaries removed before the age of 45.
- Have poor nutrition and/or an inadequate calcium intake.
- Do not exercise regularly.
- Have excessive alcohol intake.
- Are under steroids for an extended period of time i.e. more than three months.
Commonly, a BMD scan is done over the lumbar spine and hip region. However, there are several factors that may require an alternate region to be scanned instead.
A BMD scan measures bone density by using low radiation (X-ray) to obtain data. In a DEXA unit, a detector detects the energy emitted after an X-ray has passed through the patient. Bone mass will obstruct the energy passing through. Thus, the more energy emitted, the weaker the bone is.
In simpler terms....
A BMD scan is usually ordered by the doctors for patients who display risk of osteoporosis to determine bone strength. Subsequently, the results will be analysed by the requesting doctors who will then discuss any future treatment plans for the patient.