Test: Bone Densitometry

This technique uses low-dose X-rays to measure the density of bone. The test is carried out to screen for and diagnose osteoporosis, a condition that is particularly common in postmenopausal women. The varying absorption of X-rays as they pass through the body is interpreted by a computer and displayed as an image. The computer calculates the average density of the bone and compares it with the normal range for the person’s age and sex. The procedure takes about 10–20 minutes and is painless.

Bone densitometry of the spine

You will be asked to lie still with your legs raised and your back flat. The X-ray generator and detector move along the length of your spine and transmit information to a computer.

Results

Spinal bone density scan

This is a colour-coded, computerized representation of the relative densities of bone in different areas of the spine.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

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