Bone Density

A bone density test is a low dose X-Ray procedure that measures bone mass. It aids in the diagnosis and risk of developing osteoporosis. A bone density scan is done to:

  • measure the amount of minerals, such as calcium, in bone;
  • assess a person’s risk of bone fractures; and
  • check for bone loss.

Bone loss can result from:

1. Certain treatments, such as:

  • hormonal therapies;
  • corticosteroids;
  • radiation to weight-bearing bones;
  • some chemotherapy drugs;
  • some anti-seizure drugs; and
  • long-term use of blood thinners.

2. Certain conditions, such as:

  • diabetes
  • early menopause;
  • low testosterone level in men;
  • malabsorption disease (e.g. celiac disease)
  • thyroid or parathyroid disorders;
  • long periods of bed rest and not being active;
  • increasing age; and
  • bone marrow transplant.

Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bone mineral density is lower than normal. The risk factors for osteoporosis include:

  • smoking;
  • high alcohol intake;
  • high caffeine intake;
  • sedentary lifestyle;
  • diet low in calcium or vitamin D;
  • family history of osteoporosis;
  • history of fractures occurring with minimal trauma; and
  • low body weight or weight loss.

The person's height and weight are measured prior to lying on a cushioned table. After being comfortably positioned the scanner moves over the area to be imaged (usually the lower back/lumbar spine and a hip) and transfers the images to a computer screen.

A bone density scan is usually done as an outpatient procedure in the x-ray (radiology) department of the hospital. and takes between 10 and 20 minutes.

The images will be sent to a doctor specializing in radiology, who will analyze them. Your doctor will receive the results in approximately seven to 10 days, and discuss them with you. Please note that the technologist will not be able to give you the results. Only a doctor, primary care provider, or specialist can provide you with that information.


Choosing Wisely Canada

Radiological Society of North America

Canadian Association of Radiologists

Canadian Radiation Protection Association

Canadian Cancer Society


Diagnostic Imaging Department
Level 1, Norman Building
Bluewater Health, Sarnia
89 Norman Street, Sarnia, ON N7T 6S3

Hours & Contact

Monday to Friday, 8:00 am to 4:00 pm 
General Information Tel: 519-464-4400, Ext. 5269

To book an appointment:
Tel: 519-464-4400, Ext. 4433

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