The Who and Why of Bone Density Testing

Are you of the age or meet the criteria to need a bone mineral density test? Read further to see if you should be investigating this critical test with your primary care physician.

Bone mineral density (BMD) tests examine bone health and can help determine a person’s risk for fractures and identify osteoporosis. The most common and accurate test used to measure BMD is the dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry machine (DEXA or DXA), which compares the bone density in your hip and spine against established norms. DEXA uses a small amount of radiation though experts indicate the radiation risk is very low.

Who should get tested?

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends all women over age 65 and those who are under 65 but have a high risk of developing fractures get tested. In addition the NIH recommends bone density testing be considered in people with medical conditions putting them at high risk of fractures due to low bone density and those who have taken glucocorticoid medications for 2 months or more.

Why get tested?

BMD testing will determine if you have low bone mass thereby helping your physician determine preventative care and treatment options if necessary, which could include a calcium and vitamin D3 supplement.

If you have any questions about bone density testing, talk to your primary care physician, and you can decide between you if a BMD test is right for you now or possibly in the future.


NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center.