Bone densitometry is a sophisticated tool used to provide early diagnosis of osteoporosis, a disease of bone loss leading to an increased risk of fractures of your hip, spine, and wrist. This test assesses your risk, to help your doctor determine if dietary changes, weight-bearing exercise or medication may be useful in preventing or treating osteoporosis. Men as well as women are affected by osteoporosis; however, women are at five times’ greater risk than men of developing the condition.

Some of the risk factors for osteoporosis are:

  • Female, amenorrhea, early menopause or surgically-induced menopause
  • Thin and/or small boned
  • Advanced age
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Prolonged use of corticosteroids
  • Thyroid disease
  • Excessive use of alcohol
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Low vitamin D or calcium intake
  • Lack of exercise—sedentary lifestyle
  • Having had chemotherapy

Until recently, osteoporosis was not often diagnosed until complications, such as broken bones, occurred. With this simple test, early diagnosis and preventive treatment are possible. A bone densitometer uses painless radiographic imaging (DXA, or Dual X-ray Absorptiometry) to evaluate and measure the density of bone in your spine, hips or forearms. Your measurements - based on age, weight, sex and ethnic background - are also analyzed to determine your age-related fracture risk.


There are no risks associated with the bone densitometry DXA scan. You should not have this test, however, if you are pregnant or suspect that you are pregnant.


Do not take any calcium pills on the day of your exam. Try to dress in a jogging suit, slacks or skirt with elasticized waistband and a jersey or knit top. Avoid clothing with snaps, buttons, and zippers. Metal and plastic in the area being scanned will interfere with the exam. Allow 1⁄2 hour for your appointment.

Learn more about preparation, registration, and results.

The Procedure

DXA is a painless, non-invasive test. You will be asked to lie still on a padded table, fully clothed, while the instrument briefly passes over you. The actual study lasts approximately 15 minutes.


To schedule a bone densitometry, please call 603-577-2399, or you may request an appointment online by using the appointment request box.