Bone Densitometry

How should I prepare for the procedure?

On the day of the exam eat normally, but don't take calcium supplements for at least 24 hours beforehand. Wear loose, comfortable clothing, avoid garments that have zippers, belts or buttons made of metal, otherwise you may be asked to undress and put on a hospital gown to prevent these items from obstructing the area being examined.

Inform your physician if you recently had a barium examination such as an upper gastrointestinal (UGI) or barium enema (BE). If you have had a recent barium examination, you will need to wait until the material clears your system. As with any x-ray examination women should always inform their physician or the x-ray technologist if there is a possibility they might be pregnant.

How is the procedure performed?

During the test, you will lie on a padded scanning table while the imager passes over your body taking measurements. It is important that you stay as still as possible during the procedure to ensure accurate results. The procedure is painless and radiation exposure is minimal - less than one-tenth the dose of a standard chest x-ray.

The DEXA machine sends a thin, invisible x-ray beam with two distinct energy peaks through your bones. One is absorbed mainly by soft tissue and the other by the bone. The soft tissue amount can be subtracted from the total and what remains is a patient's bone mineral density or BMD.

The results of a bone density test are reported as:

  • T-score, which is your bone density compared to what is normally expected for a young adult of your gender.
  • Z-score, which compares your bone density to what's normally expected for your age, gender and weight. This helps pinpoint whether factors other than aging are causing your bone loss.

Who is a candidate for this procedure?

All women should have a bone density test performed at the onset of menopause to evaluate for a future risk of osteoporosis or the need for future therapy. Patients with the following risk factors are at an even higher risk for osteoporosis and should be tested:

  • Chronic smoking
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Low body weight
  • Prolonged periods of estrogen deficiency
  • Use of steroid medications
  • Prior fractures
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Males with clinical conditions associated with bone loss

Who interprets the results and how do I get them?

Following your exam, a radiologist will analyze and interpret the data from your exam and prepare a full report. The report will be sent directly to your physician who will share the results with you. To request a copy of the report, you may contact your physician's office or the Medical Records Department at (432) 221-1600.

How do I schedule an appointment?

Your physician's office will provide you with the necessary referral and will either contact Midland Memorial Radiology scheduling or may have you call and make the arrangements. To schedule an appointment, you may contact us at (432) 221.2300

Is a bone density procedure covered by my insurance or Medicare?

For post-menopausal women, bone density testing is a covered Medicare benefit every 12 months. Most PPOs and private insurances also cover this procedure. Some insurers may require prior authorization. Ask your physician if you are a candidate for bone density testing. If you are, your physician's office may obtain the authorization if required by your insurance company.

What do I need to bring with me the day of the exam?

You will need to bring the order your physician gave you, a form of personal identification, and any insurance or Medicare information. If you are taking any medications, please print and complete the second page of the Pocket Medication Card and bring the list with you. Please do not bring the medications. This will help expedite your visit and reduce the possibility of losing any of your medications.