As we grow older, our bones lose some of their calcium, which weakens them and makes them more prone to fractures. Mild bone loss is referred to as osteopenia, and more severe loss is known as osteoporosis.
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Bone densitometry is an imaging services exam used by physicians at NYU Langone to diagnose bone loss. Your doctor may also use it as a tool to follow the results of any treatment initiated to address this bone loss.
You may eat normally on the day of the test. If you are taking calcium supplements, please avoid taking them for 24 hours prior to the exam. Wear loose, comfortable clothing without buttons, zippers, or snaps, if possible.
Inform your doctor and the technologist if you have received barium or any other contrast agent or radioisotope during a CT or other scan in the past 10 to 14 days. If so, you may have to reschedule the bone density test for a later time.
Please inform your doctor and technologist if there is a chance that you may be pregnant.
Prior to having the test, we ask that you fill out this brief bone densitometry screening form.
The established standard bone density test is dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, or DEXA. Measurements are most commonly taken of your lower spine and both hips. Occasionally, the test may include the bones in the forearm.
The exam is performed with you comfortably lying down on your back. During the spinal portion of the examination, your legs are raised and resting on a soft foam cushion, which straightens your spine.
When examining your hips, your feet are placed in a brace to rotate your hips inward. The scanner slowly passes above the areas of interest as it collects information that is used to make a diagnosis.
The exam usually lasts for about 15 minutes.
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