Bone Density Scan

Everyone loses bone strength as they age. A bone mineral density test is a noninvasive imaging procedure to assess your bone health. Low-dose X-rays are used to measure the amount of calcium and other minerals in your bones. Higher bone mineral content means your bones are denser, stronger and less likely to break.

Do I Need a Bone Density Test?

Your doctor may use a bone mineral density test to:

  • Predict your risk for future bone fractures
  • Diagnose low bone density and osteoporosis – a bone disease that weakens bones and increases chances of fractures
  • Assess the effectiveness of osteoporosis medications

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, an independent panel of experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine, recommends routine bone density screenings for women over age 65 and for younger women with an increased risk of osteoporosis.

DEXA Scan at UNC Medical Center

Your bone mineral density will be measured with a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan. The scan is quick and painless, and requires little to no advanced preparation.

When it’s time for your DEXA scan, you’ll lie on a padded table, and the scanner will pass over your body. The procedure usually takes 10 to 30 minutes.

What If I Have Low Bone Density or Osteoporosis?

After your scan, your doctor will discuss your results with you. If test results show you have low bone density, your doctor will work with you to create a plan to build bone strength. It may include:

  • Weight-bearing exercise, such as strength training, walking and stair climbing
  • Nutrition recommendations or supplements
  • Medications


Schedule a Bone Density Scan

Call the UNC Medical Center Imaging Center at 919-957-6800 to learn more or make an appointment.

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