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Osteoporosis Health Center

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Bone Density Scan

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What Is Bone Mineral Density Testing?

The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that 10 million people in the U.S. have osteoporosis and nearly 34 million more have osteopenia, which puts them at greater risk for osteoporosis.

Bone mineral density (BMD) is related to bone strength. BMD testing is used to diagnose osteoporosis. BMD is measured with a test called a DXA scan. By measuring BMD, doctors can predict the risk of having a bone fracture.

Recommended Related to Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis Myth: Once You Get Osteoporosis, No Treatment Helps

Reality: If diagnosed, osteoporosis can be treated with a variety of new osteoporosismedications that help to prevent bone loss and rebuild bone. These osteoporosis treatments can substantially reduce your risk of developing dangerous and potentially deadly bone fractures. Antiresorptive medications affect the body's bone remodeling cycle by slowing or stopping the part of the process that involves breakdown of bone. This can both prevent the onset of osteoporosis and help treat the disease...

Read the Osteoporosis Myth: Once You Get Osteoporosis, No Treatment Helps article > >

A bone density scan, or test, should not be confused with a bone scan, which is used to find tumors, cancer, fractures, and infections in the bone.

What Do Bone Mineral Density Test Results Mean?

  • Normal: Bones have a density that is healthy.
  • Low bone mass (medically termed osteopenia ): Bones show the beginning of bone loss, but not enough to be osteoporosis.
  • Osteoporosis: Bones are weak and porous, and more likely to break.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Trina Pagano, MD on October 24, 2014
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