This is a test that diagnoses osteoporosis — porous bone. It is often referred to as the bone density test. People experiencing this condition have weak and thin bones that may likely break. Osteoporosis is asymptomatic (without symptoms); a silent condition. So, without a bone density test, you may not detect osteoporosis until a bone breaks.
What the test involves?
Bone density test is a fast and pain-free test used to estimate the thickness of your bones under an X-ray. The X-rays measures the amount of calcium and mineral present in a part of your bone. More bone mineral content equals a stronger, thicker, and agile bone. On the other hand, the lower your bone mineral content, the more likely your bone will break should you fall. So, the more minerals you have, the better your bone health.
Who should get tested?
Anybody can get osteoporosis. In fact, older women are more vulnerable to it. However, men can have it, as well. Chances increase with age. Consult your doctor to know if you need a bone profile blood test.
You can be eligible for this test if:
- You are a woman aged 65 and above
- You are a woman 50 year or above experiencing postmenopause
- You are a woman ripe for menopause and stand a greater risk of breaking bones
- You are a woman well past menopause, less than 65 years, and have other things that increase your risk of osteoporosis
- You are a man aged 50 and above with other risk factors
- You break a bone after 50
- You are 1.5 inches less in adult height
- You have a more hunched posture
- You are experiencing back pain without any cause
- You are experiencing irregular periods, or it has stopped, yet you are neither pregnant nor in menopause
- You have undergone an organ transplant
- Your hormone levels have declined
Certain prescription drugs can result in bone loss. For instance, glucocorticoids, a class of drugs used to manage inflammation may lower the density of your bone. Do well to inform your doctor if you have been using drugs like cortisone (Cortone Acetate), prednisone (Deltasone), or dexamethasone (Baycadron, Maxidex, Ozurdex). It is important as it will give them an idea of how best to handle your case.
What should you expect?
During a bone profile test, your doctor will usually examine the bones in your hip, forearm, and spine. These are the bones that may likely break when you have osteoporosis. There are 2 types of bone density tests. And they usually take less than 15 minutes to complete:
- Central DXA – Here, your spine and hip bones are examined. This test seems to be more accurate and more pricey. Central DXA means Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry. During this test, you lie down on a padded platform with your clothes on. Your doctor will pass machine arm over you, sending low-dose X-rays via your body. Depending on the level of X-ray changes after passing via your bones, it will project an image of your skeleton. This procedure lasts around 10 minutes. The image is sent to an expert to interpret the results. This can take a few days, depending on your doctor’s office.
- Peripheral test – This test measures bone density at your heel, finger, and wrist. It is less intensive since it does not check your spine or hips, and it costs less. The test device is portable and can be available in pharmacies and health fairs. This is why people who cannot get the central DXA test can get access to the peripheral tests. People can also be screened with this test so that those with a high risk of osteoporosis can be further tested. Again, they are used for large people who cannot undergo DXA due to their body weight.
Preparing for the test
There are some guidelines you should follow before going for a bone density test. They include the following:
- Make sure you avoid calcium supplements for 24 hours before the exam
- Should you have had an injection of barium or contrast dye for an MRI or CT scan, wait for 7 days before getting a DXA. Why? The contrast dye could interfere with your bone density test.
- Avoid putting on clothes with metal zippers, buttons, or belts
Bone density test has minimal risk, as you are exposed to very low levels of radiation; less than that in an aeroplane flight or chest X-ray.
After completing your bone density test, you will get 2 scores:
- T score – This score shows if your bone density is normal, below normal, or within levels indicating osteoporosis, by comparing it with that of a healthy young adult of your gender.
T score meaning:
- -1 and above indicates the normal bone density
- -1 to -2.5 indicates low bone density and may cause osteoporosis
- -2.5 and above indicates the presence of osteoporosis
- Z score – This shows the amount of bone mass you have compared with other people of your gender, size and age. A z score below -2.0 indicates that your bone mass is less than someone your age and that it may be caused by other factors apart from ageing.
How often should you get tested?
Should you be on medication for osteoporosis, expect to undergo a bone density test every 1 to 2 years. However, even if you’ve got no osteoporosis, your doctor may recommend you get a bone density test every 2 years, especially for women experiencing menopause and postmenopause.
So, if you think you qualify for this test, you can consult your doctor to get tested. Don’t have a doctor? Visit PrivateBlood Tests London Clinicfor a bone density test. We have qualified and experienced specialists at our practice. Our medical standards are maintained to give patients, both new and existing,a wonderful healthcare experience. Our dedicated staff are friendly and smart, and will always support you throughout your test and treatment period. Feel free to contact us for any questions you have concerning bone density test. We will gladly be of help.