A bone density test determines if you have osteoporosis — a disease that causes bones to become more fragile and more likely to break. In the past, osteoporosis could be detected only after you broke a bone. By that time, however, your bones could be quite weak. A bone density test makes it possible to know your risk of breaking bones before the fact.
When you have a bone density test in Barron, X-rays are used to measure how many grams of calcium and other bone minerals are packed into a segment of bone. The bones that are most commonly tested are located in the spine, hip and forearm.
During your exam, you will lie on a padded platform while a mechanical arm passes over your body. The amount of radiation you're exposed to is low — much less than the amount emitted during a chest X-ray. The test usually takes about 10 minutes to complete.