Bone densitometry

Bone density scans are low-dose ionising radiation modalities that measure the strength of bones, which is determined by the presence of minerals such as calcium and phosphorous. This is mainly to diagnose osteopenia and osteoporosis, the abnormal loss of bone tissue resulting in fragile bones, and to determine bone fracture risks. The lumbar spine, hips and the non-dominant forearm are usually scanned. These scans are painless, however if you have an injury or painful clinical condition, you may experience some discomfort. 

The output of a bone density test is a number called a T-score. Normal is zero (0). The more negative the number, the weaker the bones and the more likely they are to break. A T-score of -2.5 or below indicates osteoporosis, assuming that there is no clinical indication for the low T-score. 

Risk factors for osteoporosis include early and post-menopausal women not taking estrogen, long-term steroid use, certain diseases, and medications that cause bone loss.

We offer the following imaging services:

Bone densitometry

Please note:

  • Patients are responsible for obtaining authorisation for radiology procedures. Please contact us for assistance.
  • Women must inform their referring clinician and the radiographer on duty if there is any possibility that they may be pregnant.
  • Patients must inform the radiographer if they have had spinal or hip surgeries (especially metallic implants or screws). 
  • For diagnostic results, patients who have had bowel contrast studies must wait seven to ten days, for the contrast to clear, before having a bone density scan. 
  • Depending on the area that will be examined, patients may want to wear comfortable clothing. They may be asked to change into a hospital gown and to remove jewellery and other metallic items from their body.

Frequently asked questions

For screening benefits, please contact your medical aid.

If bone density results are normal, we recommend a scan every two to three years. Should the results indicate osteopenia or osteoporosis, we recommend yearly scans to monitor the efficiency of treatment.

Please discuss your results with your referring clinician for treatment options.