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
  • check for bone loss

Bone loss can result from:

Certain treatments, such as

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

Certain conditions, such as

  • early menopause
  • low testosterone level in men
  • thyroid or parathyroid disorders
  • long periods of bed rest and not being active
  • increasing age
  • 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
  • low body weight or weight loss

The person lies on a table and is placed in position. The person must lie still while the scan is being done.

The scanner moves over the area to be scanned and uses low-dose x-rays to produce images on a computer screen. Images are taken usually of the bones of the lower spine and hip.

A bone density scan is usually done as an outpatient procedure in the x-ray (radiology) department of the hospital. Depending on the number of areas being scanned, the test takes between 5 and 20 minutes.

The images will be sent to a radiologist who will analyze them. Your doctor will receive the results in approximately seven days, and discuss them with you. Please note that the person conducting the test will not be able to give you the results of your test. 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, 7:30 am to 4:30 pm 
Tel: 519-464-4400, Ext. 5269

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

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