What is Bone Density Testing?
This is a way of measuring the amount of calcium in a
certain amount of bone. This is important because the amount
of calcium in your bone
determines how strong it is. If the bone density is very low, then you have osteoporosis
a very high risk of fracturing your bones. A standard X-ray is not a good way to
measure bone density, because you
must lose about 30% of your bone mass before it
can be detected this way. We need to find out about any problem llong
before it gets that
severe. There are different techniques for measuring bone density. The most advanced,
and the one
used by New Mexico Clinical Research & Osteoporosis Center, is called“Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry” or DXA.
This uses a very weak form of X-ray (about
1/30 the radiation of a standard chest X-ray) to rapidly scan your bones,
and a computer
to convert this information to numbers indicating your bone density. This is a high
technology test, but is
very easy to go through. It takes only a few minutes, and involves
no shots, needles, enemas, or medicine. In fact, you
don’t even have to take off your
clothes, provided you are wearing nothing with metal in it.
Who needs bone densitometry?
The answer is – anyone who wants an accurate
measurement of bone density. However, because of cost concerns,
often done for those with high risk of developing osteoporosis, or to monitor the
effectiveness of treatment
Consult with your physician if you think you
might benefit from knowing your bone density.
The categories for which bone
most often done are:
♣ Estrogen deficient women undecided about taking hormones.
♣ Those with spinal abnormalities or X-ray evidence of bone loss.
♣ Anyone taking long-term corticosteroid treatment (such as Prednisone).
♣ Primary hyperparathyroidism with no symptoms.
♣ Monitoring of therapy for osteoporosis.
Will insurance cover bone densitometry? It depends. At this time, most insurance companies have a very specific list of diagnoses
which will qualify you for coverage to
have bone densitometry done. The list is different for each type of insurance, and often
pre-authorization is required before the test is scheduled. Your physician’s office can
give you more information on whether or
not you will be covered. If you and your hysician feel that the test should be done, even if not covered by insurance, then
can be made for self-pay at a discounted rate at New Mexico Clinical Research & Osteoporosis Center.
How is bone densitometry scheduled?
To schedule bone densitometry at New
Mexico Clinical Research & Osteoporosis Center, call (505) 855-5525.
E. Michael Lewiecki, MD
Lance A. Rudolph, MD
This page update 01/10/08