Vanderbilt Breast Center / Our Services / Bone Density Screenings

Bone Density Screenings

Importance of Bone Density Screenings

A bone density test helps determine the strength of your bones and DEXA (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry) scanning is the most accurate technique available for that determination. Aging, menopause and some medical conditions can cause a loss of bone strength that increases the risk of fractures resulting in osteoporosis.

Bone density testing can help predict your risk of a fracture and can be used to assess changes in bone strength during therapy for osteoporosis. The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends a bone density test at least once for all women age 65 and older. Additional indications for bone density testing may include:

  • Postmenopausal women under age 65 who have one or more additional risk factors for osteoporosis (in addition to being postmenopausal and female)
  • Postmenopausal women who sustain a fracture
  • Women who are considering therapy for osteoporosis if bone density testing would facilitate the decision
  • Women who have been on hormone replacement therapy (HRT/ERT) for prolonged periods


What to Expect

  • Bone density exams require you to sit or lay down while the densitometer moves over your lower back, thighs or forearm.
  • The measurement that is taken utilizes a minute amount of radiation exposure via X-ray beams and takes only a few minutes.
  • Most exams are finished in less than 15 minutes.
  • You may eat and drink normally on the morning before your appointment.
  • Do NOT take your oral calcium supplements before the exam.
  • It is important that you have not had any contrasted studies (MRI or CT) for at least 72 hours or any studies involving the use of radioisotopes (nuclear medicine studies) for two weeks before the appointment.
  • It is best if the bone density exam can be scheduled before MRI, CT or nuclear studies.

What We Offer

The Vanderbilt Breast Center is a comprehensive clinic that cares for all of your breast health needs on location at One Hundred Oaks. You can schedule your yearly mammogram and bone density screening, which is recommended every other year, on the same day. If something were to appear abnormal in your screening, we have the resources to help you with diagnostic services, oncology and plastic surgery in the same place.