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Bone Density Test Guidelines

by Wanda Lockwood
  • Overview

    Bone Density Test Guidelines
    Bone Density Test Guidelines
    Bone density testing (densitometry) determines if you have bone loss (osteoporosis). Most bone density testing is done with a dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan because it has low radiation and identifies early osteoporosis. MedlinePlus and the National Institute of Arthritis & Musculoskeletal Disease provide guidelines for testing.
  • Age and Gender

    You should have a bone density test by age 60 with risk factors and by age 65 if you are female without risk factors or male over 65 with risk factors.
  • Physical Risk Factors

    Risk factors include Caucasian, 65 or older and female, a history of fractures, especially of the vertebrae or hip, chronic disease (asthma, celiac disease, cancer, eating disorders, Crohn's disease, lupus), a small frame with thin bones and underweight.
  • Environmental/Social Risk Factors

    Excess drinking and smoking, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and diet low in calcium and vitamin D increase your risk.
  • Repeat Testing

    Bone repairs slowly, so you may need repeat testing every two to five years, depending on your risk factors and treatment for osteoporosis, such as bisphosphonates.
  • Normal T-Score

    The T-score indicates bone loss. The normal T-score begins at zero (no bone loss) and ranges to -1.0 (10 percent bone loss), requiring no intervention.
  • T-Score (Below Normal)

    A T-score of -2.0 (20 percent bone loss) requires more aggressive treatment (medications) in addition to lifestyle changes (diet high in calcium and vitamin D and exercise).

    References & Resources