Bone mineral densitometry is a specialised x-ray technique to assess the mineral content of bone. Reduced bone mineral content causes osteoporosis. This measurement gives an indirect indication of the calcium content and hence strength of the bone. It is used to predict the risk of a future fracture and for follow up of therapy.
The technique utilises an extremely small amount of radiation which is very unlikely to be detrimental. The dosages are so small that the operator stays in the room during the procedure.
Usually bone mineral density is measured at two sites in the body, the hip and lower spine but other sites can be used in special circumstances.
Whilst loss of bone mass and osteoporosis is usually seen in post-menopausal women, younger patients and men can also be affected particularly in certain medical conditions or with long use of certain medications.
The scan takes about 5 to 10 minutes and does not require any special preparation.