OSF Saint Luke Medical Center

Kewanee, Illinois

Bone Density Screening

How strong are your bones?  And what does it matter?

As you age,  minerals that feed your bones may be  lost faster than they are added.  That results in lighter, less dense, and more porous bones (osteopenia) a natural process that begins in midlife. It makes your bones weaker and more likely to break. Bone density loss can being earlier for some people due to heredity and certain medical conditions or treatments.

Bone density testing offers significant benefits: to determine if you have or might develop osteoporosis; to  prevent more bone loss and strengthen weak bones; to determine if you are at risk for fractures and minimize  risk:  and to help your doctor  monitor treatment and check your progress

What is osteoporosis?

Osteopenia can develop into osteoporosis, a conditions in which bones become thin and brittle. More than 25 million Americans suffer from osteoporosis, which can result in:

  • Loss of height or hump in your back
  • Chronic pain
  • Loss of movement due to bone fractures
  • Higher risk/likelihood of hip fracture

Why do I need a bone density test?

Your physician may order a bone density test if you have one or more of the following risk factors for osteoporosis:

  • Women past menopause. During menopause, the amount of estrogen (a hormone) in a woman's body decreases. Without estrogen, the body breaks bone down more quickly
  • A condition, such as Cushing Syndrome or diabetes, has been identified
  • Medications that tend to weaken the bones, such as corticosteroids or thyroid medications, are being taken
  • Advancing age
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Diet low in calcium
  • Women who smoke or consume excessive amounts of alcohol
  • Women who are inactive or have sedentary lifestyles
  • Females with prolonged use of some birth controls, particularly depo shots

What can I expect?

  • Because ordinary X-rays cannot detect mild bone loss, your bone density will be determined using specially designed imaging equipment.
  • The system uses small doses of radiation and provides information to a computer to determine the density of your bones.
  • It is safe and painless. You will be asked to lie on a table or place your arm inside a machine. The entire screening will take about 15-30 minutes.
  • In total, four to five images will be taken.

Questions or Concerns?

If you have questions about the specific technique that will be used to test your bone density, or if you have any other questions or concerns, please ask your physician.  Important issues include:

  • Pregnancy - A bone density test may not be safe if you are pregnant. If you are, or suspect you may be, tell your physician immediately
  • Medications - Make sure your physician is aware of all medications you are taking  prescription and over-the-counter

How do I prepare?

  • Dress comfortably
  • Avoid clothing with metal buttons, buckles, or zippers
  • Follow your healthcare provider's instructions about taking medications before the test

How do I get my results?

Your exam results will be sent to your physician who will discuss them with you at your next appointment. If you have questions or comments about your procedure at any time, please talk to your physician or ask a member of the Radiology team.

We want to make you as comfortable with the screening as possible.