Bone Mineral Densitometry (BMD)

Bone Mineral Densitometry (BMD)

PLEASE NOTE:  Gold Coast Spine does not perform these investigations, we are supplying information for your reference only.

What is a BMD?

A Bone Mineral Densitometry (BMD) Scan is also known as a Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) Scan.  It is a type of X-ray which measures the density of your bones. The more dense the bone, the stronger they are. When bones become less dense we call it ‘osteopenia’ and if they are even less dense it is called ‘osteoporosis’.

One of the results this scan produces is a T score; this score is used to diagnose these conditions:

T score is -1 or above? → Normal bone density
T score is between -1 and -2.5? → Osteopenia
T score is -2.5 or below? → Osteoporosis

This test therefore gives information on the strength and quality of your bones, which is important to know when diagnosing and treating spine conditions in our practice. 

How do I prepare for my BMD?

There is no specific preparation required to have a BMD. You can eat and drink beforehand and take all your medications as per usual. You can wear normal clothing throughout this scan though try and wear clothing that does not have metallic buttons or zips as this could interfere with the quality of the scan. You will be asked to remove any metallic items (e.g. belts).

It is also important that you bring your referral letter or request form from your surgeon.

How is a BMD done?

You will be asked to lie on a flat bed and x-rays will be taken; commonly of your lower spine and the top or ‘neck’ of your thighbone (femur). There is no pain and this simple test takes approximately 10-30 minutes to complete. Your weight and height may also be measured which helps in analysis of the data produced.

What can I expect after the BMD?

There are no limitations on your activity levels once the scan is complete. 

What are the risks of BMDs?

Like many types of radiology, a BMD involves exposure to radiation. An increased lifetime cancer risk is a rare risk due to this exposure to x-rays. Due to this exposure this test should be also avoided in female patients who are, or may be, pregnant.

Delivery of Results

Following your BMD, the results will be reviewed a specialist radiologist who will interpret the images; however, this takes some time. A copy of the images obtained from your BMD and the radiologist report will be delivered to your surgeon. This delivery generally takes several days.