What is a Bone Mineral Density (BMD) Exam?
Bone Mineral Density (BMD) is a measurement of the concentration of minerals in the bones which are vital for strong bones. A high BMD indicates above average amounts of calcium and phosphates in the bones, while a below-normal bone mineral density can indicate a loss of bone mass, possibly from osteoporosis. A BMD examination will assess the integrity of your bones; it does not provide a diagnosis for pain or measure arthritic changes.
How much radiation will I be exposed to?
Typically, the exposure for a BMD exam is less than for a standard chest x-ray. As with any x-ray procedure, inform the technologist prior to the exam if there is a chance you may be pregnant.
Who should have a BMD exam?
The Osteoporosis Society of Canada recommends that people aged 65 or older should have a BMD to screen for osteoporosis. However, if you are at increased risk for osteoporotic fractures, screening should begin earlier.
If you are younger than 60 years of age, and have one or more of the risk factors for osteoporosis, you may want to consider whether BMD testing is right for you. It is possible to reduce your risk for broken bones and other effects of osteoporosis with treatment and/or lifestyle changes.
If you have a low trauma fracture sometimes called a fragility fracture, you may want to have a BMD test. A low trauma or fragility fracture means that you broke a bone doing something that would not normally cause a broken bone. This includes normal daily activities or a simple fall from standing height.
Ask your doctor about your risk factors and whether you should be tested for osteoporosis before age 65. BMD testing is appropriate if you are at risk for osteoporosis and are willing to make lifestyles changes.
What happens during a BMD exam?
- You will be asked to remove all of your clothing except for your underpants and put on a gown.
- The technologist will review a brief medical history with you and answer any questions you might have.
- The technologist will then measure your height and weight.
- You will be asked to lie on your back with your feet elevated for a scan (x-ray) of your lower back and your feet extended for a scan of your hip.
- The scan takes approximately 10 minutes to complete.
Why should I have a BMD exam?
The BMD exam is performed to:
- Establish a baseline or normal state for each person
- Detect low bone density before fractures occur
- Confirm a diagnosis of osteoporosis
- Monitor the effects of prescribed treatment
How do I book a BMD exam?
- To book a BMD exam, visit your doctor to obtain a referral and to ensure that you are eligible for a BMD exam under the current OHIP guidelines
- Contact Patient Scheduling at 905-895-4521, ext. 2665
- Bring your Ontario Health Insurance Card and your referral form from your doctor on the day of the BMD exam
Patients who are taking over the counter calcium should refrain from taking his/her calcium pills 24 hours prior to the BMD examination.
Patients who have abdominal piercings should remove them prior to the BMD examination.