Programs & Services
Bone Mineral Density (BMD) Scan
Osteoporosis, which means "porous bones," is a bone-thinning disease that can lead to debilitating fractures, typically in the spine, hip and wrist. Although the condition is often considered a "women's disease," men also are affected.
Many people don't know they have osteoporosis until they have a fracture or have a bone mineral density (BMD) test, also known as a bone density scan. A bone mineral density scan is a simple, non-invasive test that measures a person's bone density or volume of calcium and minerals within bone tissue.
Bone mineral density scans are available at the Trillium Health Centre and can help to:
- Detect osteoporosis before a fracture occurs
- Predict your chance of fracturing in the future
- Determine your rate of bone loss or monitor the effects of treatment
Who Should Have One
Your doctor can help determine if you should have a bone density scan. They are recommended if you are age 65 or older regardless of risk. Routine exams are only performed every three years. If you're under 65 years of age, you should have a bone density scan if you have one or more of the following risk factors:
- Calcium-deficient diet
- History of amenorrhea - the abnormal absence of menstruation
- History of malabsorption
- Moderate to high alcohol intake
- Poor nutrition
- Prolonged treatment with steroids, certain anti-cancer drugs, thyroid hormone and some anti-seizure medications
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Significant caffeine consumption
- Small-boned frame
A bone density scan is a simple, non-invasive and painless exam to measure bone mass in areas such as your spine and hip The standard test uses a low dose X-ray to detect signs of bone thinning and mineral loss.
A bone density scan takes about 20 minutes, including registration. During the procedure, you will lie on a table scanner for five to eight minutes. A technologist will sit next to you throughout the procedure.
Before Your Procedure
A bone density scan requires little preparation. You may eat normally and take medications as prescribed by your doctor the morning of your test.
The only restrictions are:
- Do not take any vitamin pills or mineral supplements the morning of your exam.
- You must not have any exams involving barium or radioisotopes within the last month. These scans interfere with the bone density results.
The results of your bone density scan will be available within three to five days. This information will enable your doctor to determine if you're at risk for fractures and require further evaluation. The lower your bone density, the higher your risk for fracture. Test results also help you and your doctor plan the best course of action for your bone health.