A bone densitometry is an x-ray test used to measure bone mineral density. It is used in particular to screen for osteoporosis in postmenopausal women, who are more at risk of fractures. Concrete unfolded.
After the menopausethe risk osteoporosis increases in women. To detect and monitor osteoporosis, the recommended test is bone densitometry. How’s it going ? What is it about ? Does that it hurts ? How long it lasts ? Do you have to be undressed ?
Definition: what is a bone densitometry?
Bone densitometry or Bone densitometry is a radiological examination which makes it possible to measure, using a densitometer, the mass of calcium contained in the bones. It is the reflection of its solidity. This exam uses X-rays.”It is practiced at the level of the spine (lumbar) and the neck of the femur. A good calcium concentration is synonymous with strong bones “, says Dr. Monique Quillard, general practitioner. He detects people at risk of osteoporosis : this pathology leads to a high risk of fractures in the hips, wrists and vertebrae and affects 1 in 3 women after menopause. Bone densitometry has also for role the monitoring of the evolution of osteoporosis during treatment.
How long does a bone densitometry take?
The bone densitometry lasts less than fifteen minutes and it is completely painless.
What are the indications for a bone densitometry?
This examination is indicated when risk factors for bone deficit are present: elderly woman, early menopause (before age 40), undernutrition, physical inactivity, smoking, diet low in calcium, long-term treatment with corticosteroids, clear appearance of the bones on the x-rays, history of fracture of the neck of the femur without trauma in a 1st degree relative and BMI (Body Mass Index) less than 19 kg/m2.
“This examination does not require any injection”
For a bone densitometry, you have to be lying down. During the exam, you are lying on an x-ray table, on your back. YOU
are in your underwear, sometimes just wearing an exam gown. “This examination does not require any injection”, specifies Dr. Augustin Latourte, rheumatologist at the Lariboisière hospital in Paris. The technologist or the doctor, placed behind a protective glass, uses a device which moves slowly above you in order to carry out measurements on two main sites: the lumbar spine and the femoral necks. “The absorption by the skeleton of an energy beam through the bones is analyzed during the examination and will make it possible to measure the density of the bones, and possibly to make a diagnosis of osteoporosis. The results will be communicated to you at the end of the exam., adds Dr. Latourte.
Is it necessary to have a prescription?
Yes, this examination is only possible if you have a medical prescription. “She is usually issued by their attending physician or by a rheumatologist in the presence of risk factors for osteoporosis “, specifies Dr. Quillard.
Where to do a bone densitometry?
It is performed in a radiology office, in a bone densitometry room.
The result is expressed by a T-Score. “It corresponds to the difference between the measured bone density and that, theoretical, of a young adult of the same sex and at the same site (neck of the femur, lumbar spine, etc.).“explains Dr. Quillard. The results are:
- T-score greater than -1: normal density
- T-score between – 2.5 and -1: osteopenia
- T-score less than -2.5: osteoporosis.
Based on these results, the doctor will be able to confirm his diagnosis. In case of osteoporosis, drug treatment will be put in place to prevent the risk of fractures. “It is mainly based on the intake of calcium and vitamin D, the practice of non-violent physical activitysuch as walking, and regular for 30 to 45 minutes a day “, adds Dr. Quillard. When the result is normal or reveals osteopenia for which no treatment is in place, a follow-up is done every 3 to 5 years for control.
Price and reimbursement of bone densitometry
This examination is covered by the Health Insurance on medical prescription and for patients with risk factors for osteoporosis. It is reimbursed at 70% on the basis of a rate set at 39.96 euros.
Thanks to Dr Monique Quillard, general practitioner and Dr Augustin Latourte, rheumatologist at the Lariboisière hospital in Paris.