Osteo-K FAQ: Bone Density Scans and Fracture Risk
More FAQ Topics
Q: What is a bone density scan?
It's a special test, called dual X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). It quantifies the amount of minerals in
bone. This test tells people their bone mineral density (BMD).
Q: Does bone mineral density (BMD) predict
Not very well. BMD only predicts 44% of
elderly (65 years or older) women and 21% of elderly men who will get a
Q: Should I get a bone density test?
In 2007 the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists published screening guidelines. They recommend all postmenopausal women get a bone density test if: (1) they get a fracture, or (2) are 65 years or older, or (3) are younger than 65 years with one or more risk factors.
Q: How can I know my risk factors for fracture?
Many variables contribute to fracture risk. Having a previous
fracture is a strong indicator of risk. Some medications also increase
risk. People who don't exercise have a greater chance of falling and
breaking a bone than those who exercise. Your healthcare provider may
be able to help you better understand your risk.
Recently the United Nations World Health Organization
(WHO) created the free, online Fracture Risk Assessment (FRAX) tool,
which is available at http://www.shef.ac.uk/FRAX/index.htm.
While it misses many risk factors, it's a good start in educating the
public that the most important aspect of osteoporosis is not a DEXA scan, but rather it's the risk for breaking a bone.
Q: Where on the body is the BMD test taken?
Typically the lumbar spine and hip, or the wrist and heel, are tested. However, only the lumbar spine and hip are considered the "gold standard." When BMD tests are run in hospitals they test the lumbar spine and hip.