A bone densitometry test is extremely accurate and helps a doctor to determine the density of the patient's bones. Similar to an x-ray, a bone densitometry scan determines not only how dense the bone is, but also what its mineral content is. Low mineral content and decreased bone density can lead to fractures and clean breaks. A bone densitometry scan can be performed at any time without excessive preparation. The only requirement is that no calcium supplements or medications be taken for at least 24 hours prior to the test being performed. The results of this kind of scan are used to determine the presence of osteopenia, osteoporosis, and osteoarthritis.
Bones can eventually lose density for a variety of reasons. As a person ages, bones naturally lose calcium that compromises the density of the bone. Certain medications can also cause the bones to leach calcium, causing them to become weak and mat a higher risk of fracture or breakage. Bone densitometry scans show the concentration of minerals within the bone as well. When bone density drops below normal levels it can indicate the presence of osteopenia or osteoarthritis. These scans can also be used to determine how well a treatment plan is working. It can show increases in bone density just as it can indicate decreases.
Many people are familiar with osteoarthritis and the effects it has on the bones. Osteopenia is a condition that is similar to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis indicates a substantial loss of bone density. Osteopenia indicates a certain amount of bone loss but does not qualify as enough of a loss to be considered osteoporosis. If a bone densitometry scan shows mild bone loss and osteopenia is the eventual diagnosis, the doctor can then begin to treat the condition. When the condition is caught early enough, continued bone loss can be slowed down, allowing doctors to put a treatment plan in place that will help to strengthen the bones.