Bone Density

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Bone Density

Bone Density

A bone density test – also called densitometry or DEXA scan measures your “bone mass” and determines whether you have osteoporosis or are at risk for osteoporosis.

DEXA scans can also be used to measure total body composition and fat content with a high degree of accuracy. It is recommended that women over the age of 45 should get a DEXA scan, dependant on your risk factors. A person’s risk can be measured using the WHO’s (World Health Organization) FRAX calculator.  This includes many different clinical risk factors including prior fracture, use of glucocorticoids, heavy smoking, excess alcohol intake, rheumatoid arthritis, family history of hip fractures, chronic renal and liver diseases, and other risks.


What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a disease in which the density and quality of bones are reduced. It occurs when bone loss is so severe it causes bone to become porous, brittle and likely to break or fracture. Osteoporosis leads to weakness of the bones and increased risk of fracture of bones especially of the spine, hips and forearms. It is called the ‘silent disease’ as it does not produce symptoms until a fracture occurs after a minor accident or fall

Internationally, at least one in three women and one in five men over the age of 50 will suffer a fracture caused by weak bones.


Risk Factors

Osteoporosis mainly affects women after menopause but can also affect men.

The risk factors include:

  • Advancing age
  • Female gender
  • White or Asian ethnicity
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Low calcium / vitamin D intake
  • Smoking and or excessive use of alcohol
  • Low Body Mass Index
  • High Caffeine intake
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Amenorrhoea
  • Hyperparathyroidism
  • Hyper-Corticism
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Hypogonadism
  • Corticosteroid use
  • Anti-Convulsant use
  • Thyroxine use
  • Heparin use
  • Malabsorption syndromes
  • Anorexia Nervosa


A Bone Mineral Density Scan (BMD) assists your health care provider to diagnose Osteoporosis in a safe, simple and painless manner. The diagnosis and treatment of Osteoporosis begins with an objective measurement of your current bone status. A Bone Mineral Density Scan determines whether one is at high, increased or low risk of fracturing a bone. The BMD Scan is a painless and comfortable examination that takes 20minutes.

Booking your Bone Density

  • Please remember to bring your medical aid card together with the signed request form from your referring doctor.
  • An appointment time will be given to you.

Preparing for your Bone Density

  • Please arrive 20 minutes before the appointment time to complete paperwork.
  • Previous imaging, not done with Dr de Villiers & Partners, must be brought with you to the appointment.
  • The examination takes approximately 20 minutes.
  • A Bone Density/DEXA Scan results may be affected by certain examinations. Prior to booking the scan, please inform the staff if you had one of the following examinations within a week before your booking:
    • A CT scan;
    • Any fluoroscopy involving the swallowing of contrast media;
    • Nuclear Medicine / Isotope studies.

What to expect during your Bone Density

  • You will be asked to lie on an examination bed.
  • A Radiographer will perform the scan.
  • A device, known as a tube, will slowly move over your body during the scan.
  • Three reference sites are preferably used to determine results of your bone density. These include Spine, Hips and Forearms
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