Development Conference: Diagnosis, prophylaxis, and treatment of osteoporosis, Am J Med 1993;94:646.
Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone or both. As a result, bones become weak and are at a higher risk of breaking. Osteoporosis is often called the “silent disease”, because it doesn’t produce symptoms until a fracture occurs.
People used to think that osteoporosis was an inevitable part of aging. The good news is we know a lot more about how to prevent, detect, and treat the disease. You are never too young or too old to take care of your bones! The diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis begins with an objective measurement of your current bone density called bone densitometry.
National Osteoporosis Foundation, NOF.org: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/PDFs/A00127.pdf
Bone densitometry is a safe, accurate, and painless way to measure bone density. The bone density measurement is taken using a DXA system – DXA stands for Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry. The DXA system takes an x-ray image and your results are compared to normal bone mineral density values based on your age, gender, and ethnicity to determine if you have high, normal, or low bone density. This information, combined with risk factors and previous fractures is used to determine your risk of future fractures.
Unless instructed otherwise, eat normally on the day of the exam; but avoid taking calcium supplements for at least 24 hours prior to your appointment.
Wear loose, comfortable clothing. Sweat suits and other casual attire without zippers, buttons, grommets or any metal are preferred.
You should not have had a barium study, radioisotope injection, oral or intravenous contrast material from a CT scan or MRI within seven days prior to your DXA test.
During a bone density exam with DXA, you will lay comfortably on a padded table while the DXA system scans two or more areas, usually the fracture prone hip and spine. Unlike typical x-ray machines, radiation exposure during bone density exams is extremely low. The entire process takes only three minutes to complete and it involves no injections or invasive procedures.
There are steps you can take to prevent the development of osteoporosis. Even if you already have the disease, these measures, along with therapies prescribed at the center can help slow it’s progression.