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What Does a Bone Density Test Tell Someone?

by Eric Smith
  • Overview

    A bone density test helps determine a patient's risk of developing osteoporosis or if osteoporosis already exists. X-ray images detect the amount of calcium and other minerals in a bone segment.
  • Function

    According to the Mayo Clinic, a bone density test measures a person's risk of bone fractures and monitors the effectiveness of osteoporosis treatment.
  • Bones Tested

    Bone density tests examine bones most likely to fracture, such as the lower spine bones, the bones of the forearm and wrist, and the portion of the thighbone that adjoins the hip, the Mayo Clinic says.
  • Peripheral Device

    A portable machine, or peripheral device---often available at drug stores---can test the bone density of your wrist, finger or heel, but the Mayo Clinic suggests patients with results indicating low bone density get further testing.
  • Central Device

    At hospitals, patients rest on a machine---called a central device---while it conducts bone density testing on bones around the hip or in the spine, says the Mayo Clinic, with highly accurate results.
  • Results

    Test results compare the patient's bone density to that of a healthy person of the same gender, to determine if the patient has normal or lower-than-average bone density.

    References & Resources