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Bone Mineral Density Tests (cont.)

What Is a Bone Mineral Density Test?

Bone mineral density tests measure the solidness and mass (bone density) in the spine, hip, and/or wrist (the most common sites of fractures due to osteoporosis). Some bone mineral density tests measure bone in the heel or hand. These tests are performed like X-ray films, and they are the only reliable way to determine loss of bone mass. They are painless, noninvasive, and safe.

Doctors examine bone mineral density test results to do the following:

  • Detect low bone density (osteopenia) before a fracture occurs
  • Confirm a diagnosis of osteoporosis if a person already has broken bones (fractures)
  • Predict the chance of a person having a fracture in the future
  • Determine the rate of bone loss and monitor the effects of treatment (tests performed to monitor treatment are usually conducted every year or so)
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