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Bone Density Test

Health & Lifestyle
Contributed by : Dr.Sejal Shah
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A bone density test known as densitometry or DEXA test is performed to detect the risk of osteoporosis using x-rays. The x-ray images are taken from different intensities to check the patient's bone mass and the concentration of minerals like calcium. Osteoporosis is a disease of bone where bones become more fragile and weak leading to easy fractures of the bones.

Additional information about the procedure

Preparation for the procedure

No special preparation is required for the bone density test
Inform the health care provider abut the previous oral contrast or nuclear medicine tests if done previously.(it can interfere test result)

During procedure

Bone density test is one of the safest and painless procedures that can be performed at medical center or hospital.

Patient may need to change in examination gown and will be asked to lie down on the large machine. The smaller portable machines may be used to measure the bone density of the peripheral bones such as heel, wrist, finger etc.

The x-rays images of the bones are taken and with the help of x-rays the bone mineral content packed in to the bone segment are measured. Higher the content bones suggest more dense bones. The denser bones are considered as stronger. On the base of this bone density the health care provider evaluates the risk of osteoporosis.

The different types of the according to the machines used for the test are:

Dual Energy X- Ray Absorptiometry (DEXA)- accurately measures density of bones in spin, hip or total body
Peripheral Dual Energy X- Ray Absorptiometry (pDXA) measures density of bones in Wrist, finger, heel
Single Energy X- Ray Absorptiometry (SXA) measures density of bones in heel or wrist
Quantitative Ultrasound (QUS) measures density of bones in sheen bone, kneecap, heel
Quantitative Compound Tomography (QCT) measures density of bones in spin and other sites

Uses of the procedure
The bone density test is advised to identify the risk of bone fracture and to diagnose and\or monitor the osteoporosis treatment

Bone density test can accurately predict the risk of bone fracture or osteoporosis in a person who are at higher risk. The risk factor for osteoporosis includes, family history, history of previous fractures, old age, low body weight, being white or south East Asian, use of certain medicines causes bone loss, post menopausal, suffering certain disease such as hyperthyroidism etc.

Travelers guide
The bone density test is fast, non- invasive, painless procedure and patient can resume the normal activity immediately. The Medical tourist can expect to return back soon after the test.

More facts about Osteoporosis:

Worldwide, an osteoporotic fracture is estimated to occur every 3 seconds, a vertebral fracture every 22 seconds.
Osteoporosis is estimated to affect 200 million women worldwide - approximately one-tenth of women aged 60, one-fifth of women aged 70, two-fifths of women aged 80 and two-thirds of women aged 90.
Osteoporosis affects an estimated 75 million people in Europe, USA and Japan.
1 in 3 women over 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures, as will 1 in 5 men

Osteoporosis in Men:

About 20-25% of hip fractures occur in men. The overall mortality is about 20% in the first 12 months after hip fracture and is higher in men than women.
It is estimated that the lifetime risk of experiencing an osteoporotic fracture in men over the age of 50 is 30%, similar to the lifetime risk of developing prostate cancer.
Vertebral fractures may cause equal morbidity in men and women. Hip fractures in men cause significant morbidity and loss of normal functioning.
Although the overall prevalence of fragility fractures is higher in women, men generally have higher rates of fracture related mortality.


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