The equipment measures your bone density at your hip or spine. The test is done on these bones as they are the most likely to break due to osteoporosis. The wrist can also be scanned if either the hip or spine cannot be scanned due to metallic objects such as a hip replacement.
During the test, you lie on a padded table for a few minutes while a mechanical arm-like device passes over your body. It won't touch you. The test does use a minimal amount of radiation though your exposure during a bone density test is commonly about one-tenth of the amount emitted during a chest X-ray. The test usually takes five to ten minutes to complete and painless and non invasive.
Doctors commonly use bone density testing to:
- Identify decreases in bone density before you break a bone
- Determine your risk of broken bones (fractures)
- Confirm a diagnosis of osteoporosis if you've experienced broken bones
- Monitor osteoporosis treatment