Bone Densitometry Services
Eden Medical Center’s densitometry machine scans patients’ bones and measures calcium content (density), mainly of the spine and hip. The bone densitometry services offered by Eden are comprehensive, measuring central and peripheral bone density. We are firmly committed to finding new and more effective ways to help our physicians diagnose osteoporosis and assess fracture risk.
What is Bone Densitometry or Bone Mineral Density Testing?
Minerals, such as calcium, are constantly being added to and taken away from bone each day. When minerals are taken away faster than they are added, the bones become lighter, less dense and more porous. This makes the bones weaker and increases their risk of fracture.
A bone mineral density (BMD) test measures the quantity of calcium in a region of the bones. Once a patient completes this test, the doctor and patient will have clear information of the strength of their bones.
Bones naturally become thinner as you grow older, because existing bone breaks down faster than new bone is made. As this occurs, the bones lose minerals, again such as calcium, heaviness (mass) and structure, making them weaker. With further bone loss, a patient develops osteoporosis. Although osteoporosis can occur in men, it is most common in women who have gone through menopause.
Ordinary X-rays cannot detect mild bone loss. A bone must lose at least a quarter of its weight before a standard X-ray can detect the problem.
Bone density measurements can be done on several bones in the body. Controversy exists over which bones are best to use for BMD measurements. The bones most commonly used are those in the lower spine and hip. These bones generally have the greatest amount of bone loss and are at the highest risk of fracture. In special cases, bones in the wrist may be used for BMD measurements.
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What Techniques Can Be Used to Measure BMD?
Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA). DEXA uses two different X-ray beams. The amount of each X-ray beam blocked by bone and soft tissue are compared to estimate the bone density. DEXA is the most accurate method for measuring BMD. It is fast and uses very low doses of radiation, 1/10th the radiation of a typical chest x-ray. DEXA measures BMD on bones of the spine and hip. Under good conditions, DEXA can measure as little as 2 percent of bone loss per year. Peripheral DEXA (P-DEXA) is a modification of the DEXA technique. It measures bone density in outlying, or peripheral, areas of the body, such as the wrist, and can be done by Eden’s machine. The disadvantages of P-DEXA include an inability to measure density of the bones most likely to fracture, such as the hip and spine, because of osteoporosis, and its limited usefulness for monitoring the effect of medication used to treat osteoporosis.
If bone density is lower than normal, action can be taken to increase bone strength and reduce the risk of fracture. Some ways to increase bone density and strength include taking calcium and vitamin D supplements, doing weight-bearing exercise such as walking, weight training and certain FDA approved medications such as Bisphosphonates.
To speak with someone about Eden Medical Center's bone densitometry services, please call (510) 889-5052.
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