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What Is a Bone Density Test?

What Is a Bone Density Test?


A bone density test helps in determining if a person suffers from osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become very weak and fragile, making them prone to breaking. A bone density test is a very efficient test in which the probability of a bone breaking can be determined by estimating the strength of the bones. By knowing the strength of the bones, one can avoid breaking a bone owing to the bone density test.


This test primarily checks the level of bone density.


When Is the Bone Density Test Recommended?


A bone density test is recommended in one of the following cases:
- To confirm if there is osteoporosis
- To check for bone fracture
- To estimate the probability of breaking a bone
- To gauge the ongoing treatment of osteoporosis
- To determine the bone density
- To confirm if there is compression in spine or height loss
- For a bone-marrow transplant


Preparing for the Bone Density Test


A bone density test does not consume a lot of time and is very easy.
- Though no serious precautions are required before a bone density test, one should avoid taking calcium supplements for 24 hours before the test.
- Also in case the patient has undergone a barium exam, he or she should inform the lab incharge of the same so that the results of bone density test do not get affected.


Understanding Bone Density Test Results


A bone density test can have two types of readings: T-score and Z-score.


A T-score result denotes the person’s bone density as compared to the ideal reading of a young person of the same gender.
- A reading of -1 and above is considered normal.
- Between -1 and -2.5 indicates osteopenia.
- -2.5 and below is indicative of osteoporosis.


A Z-score indicates the number of fluctuations above or below the normal reading of a healthy young person of same gender as that of the patient. In case it is too high or too low, the doctors may recommend other tests and medications to treat the cause.

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