A bone mineral density (BMD) test measures how much calcium and other types of minerals are in an area of your bone.
This test helps your health care provider detect osteoporosis and predict your risk for bone fractures.
How the Test is Performed
Bone density testing can be done in several ways.
The most common and accurate way uses a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan. DEXA uses low-dose x-rays. (You receive more radiation from a chest x-ray.)
There are two types of DEXA scans:
- Central DEXA -- You lie on a soft table. The scanner passes over your lower spine and hip. In most cases, you do not need to undress. This scan is the best test to predict your risk for fractures, especially of the hip.
- Peripheral DEXA (p-DEXA) -- These smaller machines measure the bone density in your wrist, fingers, leg, or heel. These machines are in health care offices, pharmacies, shopping centers, and at health fairs.