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Bone Density Testing

Doctor speaking with patient

Bone density testing is the primary way osteoporosis specialists diagnosis and treat bone loss in patients. Bone loss can start right after menopause; women can lose up to 20 percent of their bone mass in the first five to seven years after menopause. During a bone density test, a technologist calculates the density of your bones using an X-ray scan.

Find an Osteoporosis Specialist

Schedule an exam

  • Call 978.573.4444 to schedule an exam.
  • Appointments are available Monday - Thursday and take about 20 minutes.
  • A signed physician order is necessary.

Day of your bone density exam

  • You may eat normally.
  • Do not take calcium supplements for at least 24 hours before your exam.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing, avoiding garments that have zippers, belts or buttons made of metal.
  • Inform your physician if you recently had a barium examination or have been injected with a contrast material for a CT scan or radioisotope. If so, you may have to wait 10 to 14 days before undergoing a DXA test.

DXA exam

We use dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) to conduct bone density tests. The DXA is fast, uses very low doses of radiation and can measure as little as two percent of bone loss per year. DXA uses two different X-ray beams to estimate bone density in your spine and hip. The area scanned is the lumbar spine (lower back), hips and sometimes forearm. Since strong, dense bones allow less of the X-ray beam to pass through them, the DXA test compares the percentage of each X-ray beam blocked by bone and soft tissue.