You will have more confidence in your diagnosis with scans from our state-of-the-art GE Lunar Prodigy Bone Densitometry at our Derry, Windham and Bedford locations.
It offers greatly improved technology and detects subtle bone changes in a variety of clinical applications. The noninvasive scan is a widely accepted way to screen for, diagnose and track osteoporosis and osteopenia.
Dual Energy Vertebral Assessments (DVA) are also available. DVA provides a dual-energy image of the AP and lateral spine allowing clinicians to visually assess the presence of vertebral fractures.
What is Bone Densitometry?
A bone densitometry scan (sometimes simply called a bone density scan) is a special type of X-ray test used to measure the calcium content of the bone, usually in the lumbar region (the lower back) and the hips. The examination is also called a DEXA-scan, QDR-scan or BMD (bone mineral density) measurement.
How does a bone densitometry scan differ from an X-ray?
A bone densitometry scan measures the calcium content in the bones, which cannot be evaluated in an ordinary X-ray. Although an X-ray may appear to show that the bones have a low calcium content, the information is unreliable, so someone with osteoporosis may have perfectly normal X-rays. An X-ray is far more reliable when it comes to detecting a recent bone fracture.
What is a bone densitometry scan used for?
A scan can help a doctor who is examining a patient for osteoporosis to assess their risk of having a bone fracture within the next few years. In general, people with a bone mineral density significantly lower than that normal for their age and sex are more likely to break a bone.
What to Expect During Your Exam
Please stop taking any medication or supplements containing calcium 48 hours prior to your scheduled exam. You may resume immediately following your exam.
A technologist will assist you to the Bone Density Screening room where you will lie on a comfortable table. The screening exam takes less than 5 minutes. You will be asked to be very still during this time. It is painless, non-invasive and safe.
You will be exposed to very little radiation – less than a standard chest x-ray. Great care is taken during any X-ray examination to ensure that the lowest radiation dose possible is used. No radiation remains in the patient’s body after the procedure and there are no side effects from the exam. [link to Radiation Safety]See the radiation safety page for more information.
What Do the Results Mean?
The results will be classified into one of the three categories.
- Normal Bone Mass: (A repeat study in 2 to 5 years to evaluate bone loss)
- Osteopenia: (Low Bone Mass – repeat the screening in 1 year to determine progression toward osteoporosis)
- Osteoporosis: (The patient may be at increased risk for fracture. Consult your primary care physician. A repeat study to evaluate effects of therapy or progression of bone loss.)
The results will be sent to your physician who will give you the results of the examination along with follow-up recommendations.
Can Anything Be Done if the Test Is Positive?
Yes. Your primary care physician can recommend several treatment options. They might include medication, exercise and dietary changes.
Osteoporosis is a common condition in which the bones become porous and fragile, and can fracture easily. It is caused by progressive, age-related bone loss resulting in low bone mass (or density), and affects mostly postmenopausal women and the elderly. About 1 in 4 women over the age of 50, and 1 in 8 men over 50 have osteoporosis.
What Are the Signs of Osteoporosis?
There are usually no symptoms of osteoporosis until an advanced stage when a bone fractures. There is a high risk of fractures of the spine, hip, and wrist, which can occur with minor falls, even coughing or lifting. Other signs may be loss of height and a deformed, hunched back due to collapsed vertebrae in the spine. This can cause severe back pain and disability.
Who is At Risk for Osteoporosis?
The total amount of bone and bone mass continues to grow and reaches a peak in young adulthood. The chance of developing osteoporosis later in life is related to the level of peak bone mass, which may be affected by nutrition, especially calcium intake during one’s youth, and genetic factors. Men have a higher peak bone mass than women. Another factor is rate of bone loss, where bone loss increases over bone repair after the age of 40. Bone loss is most rapid in women after menopause, and may be accelerated by poor calcium intake, lack of exercise, and other factors (see below).
Risk Factors for Osteoporosis:
- advanced age
- small bone stature
- family history of osteoporosis
- early menopause or ovaries removed before age 45
- prolonged immobility
- not enough calcium in diet (including as a child)
- lifestyle factors : smoking, excessive alcohol or caffeine intake (more than 3 cups of coffee per day)
- long-term use of corticosteroid medication (eg Prednisone)
- certain diseases, eg. Hyperthyroidism
Be sure to bring your physician order with you when you come for your test(s) as it contains information used by the technologist to set up your exam. Our billing department will also use this order to submit the charges to your insurance company.
Call us to schedule a convenient time for your bone density exam at (603) 537-1363.