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A bone mineral density test (also known as a Dexa scan or a Bone Density Scan) measures the thickness, or density, of the spine, hip and/or forearm, which are common sites for fractures due to osteoporosis. Bone mineral density is measured with a painless, noninvasive test using a series of x-rays.
A bone mineral density test has very little radiation exposure, takes a short period of time and is highly accurate and inexpensive. Because of the accuracy of this test, repeated measurements are often taken during a bone mineral density test. Repeated measurements are taken to track bone loss over time, or to evaluate the effectiveness of a treatment.
During a bone mineral density test, you will lay on your back on a table while a scanner arm moves back and forth over the part of your body being studied. Typically, a bone mineral density tests takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes to complete.