Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What do the numbres in a bone density measurement mean?"
My doctor gave me numbers and I didn't really understand what they meant. I am a 39 year old woman. Should I call him and ask him to explain further? He talks about my spine a lot.
Your DEXA (Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry) scan is a way of assessing your overall bone health and detecting osteoporosis or osteopenia. Typically the spine and hip are analyzed in this test. The information gathered from the test lets you and your doctors know how your bone health compares to other women your age and with younger adults, and helps predict what risk exists for a fracture related to osteoporosis to occur within the next several years. Your report from the test should include numbers called "T-scores." These scores are generated based on how a patient's bone density compares to the bone density of a healthy young adult. Osteoporosis is defined as having a T-score of negative 2.5 or lower, meaning that the bone density is at least 2.5 standard deviations from the mean. Osteopenia is defined as having a T-score between negative 1 and negative 2.5. While osteopenia means that the bones are more dense than in osteoporosis, there still exists some degree of weakening and increased risk for fracture. Your doctor can use this information to predict your risk of fracture, and can make recommendations in terms of treatment and lowering this risk. This includes the use of calcium, vitamin D, and if needed, treatment with prescription medications to help increase bone density (such as bisphosphonates).
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