Osteoporosis is a disorder where bones are more fragile and likely to break. Our doctors in New York City recommend a bone density test to determine if you have osteoporosis. Previously, physicians would only suspect osteoporosis if you had already broken a bone by which time your bones could be quite fragile. A bone density test is a way to calculate your risk of breaking bones more accurately.

One effective test is called a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry or DXA scan. It uses x-rays to measure the amount of bone minerals and calcium in a specific segment of bone.

The bones most often tested are:

  • Hip
  • Spine
  • Forearm

Another method is to use quantitative computed tomography, but this uses higher levels of radiation than other tests.

A third test uses ultrasound and is typically used to test the heel of your foot and can detect the early signs of osteoporosis. Bones that have higher mineral content are denser and tend to be stronger.

A bone density scan in NYC is different from other bone scans where an injection is required beforehand, and which are usually used to detect:

  • Infections
  • Cancer
  • Fractures
  • Other abnormalities

Additionally, the best doctor internist Dr. Fathollahi and our team of New York primary care doctors may suggest blood or urine tests to see if there is another disease that could be causing bone loss.

Who Should Have a Bone Density Test in NYC?

Osteoporosis tends to affect older women as hormone levels drop, but men can develop it too, and especially as some treatments for prostate cancer can reduce testosterone levels.

Bone density tests are recommended for all men and women aged 65 years or older. The test can also be useful for postmenopausal women aged 50 to 64 and who have risk factors for fractures.

Our physician may suggest a bone density test if you have recently lost 1.5 inches or more in height because osteoporosis is one of the main causes. They may also suggest testing if you have fractured a bone more easily than would be expected.

People who have received an organ or bone marrow transplant are more at risk of osteoporosis, and this is partly because of antirejection drugs that can affect bone regeneration.

Long-term use of specific medications such as steroids can also affect bone regeneration, leading to osteoporosis. Certain medical conditions can increase the risk of low bone density, including rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic inflammatory conditions.

The DXA Bone Density Test Procedure

A bone density test is entirely painless, easy, and fast. You will need to avoid taking calcium supplements for at least 24 hours beforehand, and it’s best to wear loose, comfortable clothing and to ensure you remove all metal objects from your pockets.

The amount of radiation emitted during a bone density test is typically very low, much less than an ordinary chest x-ray. A DXA scanner emits tow x-ray beams, one of which is high energy while the other is low energy, and it measures the level of x-rays passing through the bone from each beam.

The difference between the two beams allows the doctor to measure your bone density. The test can take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes, and the results are given as two numbers, which are the T-score and the Z-score.

Your T-score is the number of units that your bone density is above or below the average, which would normally be expected in an adult of your sex. A score of above -1 means your bone density is considered normal.

Your Z-score is the number of units above or below what would normally be considered standard for someone of your sex, age, ethnicity, and weight. If the score is significantly higher or lower than average, it may suggest that something other than aging is causing bone fragility.

What if I Have Osteoporosis?

If your bone density test does show that you have osteoporosis or that you are at risk of this disease, we can provide a suitable treatment plan to manage these risks and to help strengthen your bones.

Although it isn’t possible to entirely reverse osteoporosis, there are several ways you can manage it. Some drugs can help to maintain or build bone, and sometimes lifestyle modifications can be useful, for example, incorporating more exercise or making sure your diet contains plenty of calcium and vitamin D (vitamin D helps your body to absorb calcium).

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in our NYC office can be useful in preventing osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.

Bone Density Test and Osteoporosis Scan for Patients in NYC

Please make an appointment for bone density test or osteoporosis scan at one of our convenient locations in Midtown Manhattan or Upper East Side with our primary care physicians. Our general practitioners and internist doctors look forward to meeting you!

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