Osteoporosis can be diagnosed by measuring the density of bone. The most accurate and reproducible results are obtained by measuring the density of bone at the hip and spine.
In our centre, this is carried out on the Lunar Prodigy Advance bone densitometer. The dose of radiation is a fraction of a dental X-Ray. This is not to be confused with another procedure called quantitative ultrasound, which does not diagnose osteoporosis. DXA scanning is also used to monitor the response to treatment for osteoporosis.
The procedure requires the patient to lie on a firm surface for up to 20 minutes. There are no other special preparations, no fasting is needed and no special medications are required. It is entirely painless.
What is Osteoporosis? Osteoporosis is a disease where bones become thin, lacking in hard calcium and liable to break easily. Breaks occur most commonly at the wrist, hip and spine. Breakages in the spine may not be noticed, but can gradually lead to loss of height and a spine that is bent forward (Dowager’s Hump).
Fractures of the hip are dangerous in that up to 20% of patients will die within one year. More women die from hip fractures than from cancer of the ovaries, cervix and womb combined.
Bone is at its strongest and healthiest at the age of 35 or so. After that the bones will gradually lose calcium, and get weaker. This loss of calcium is increased in women after the menopause. Men may also get osteoporosis, especially if they are taking certain medications or suffer from chronic ill health.
Important note: If you still have periods, you must be within 10 days of the start of your last period!
The Results The scanner takes images of the bones at your hip and spine. Our Nurse will discuss the results with you.
Generally, you will find that you are in one of three categories: Normal bone density At risk of developing osteoporosis (sometimes called osteopenia) Established osteoporosis
A written report will be sent to your doctor to assess your risk and to discuss treatment, if any, that you may require.