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A bone density test is a simple, painless procedure to measure the mass (density) of your bones.
Bone density tests use a small amount of radiation. It equals about one-tenth or less of what you receive in a chest x-ray, or the same amount of radiation as in an airplane flight from Boston to San Francisco.
The best bone density test uses a method called DXA (DECK-sa). DXA stands for “dual energy x-ray absorptiometry.”
For this test, you will be asked to lie perfectly still on a table. A moveable arm passes over the area to be tested (usually your lower spine and one hip). The entire procedure takes about 20 minutes.
The results of the DXA test come as a “T-score.” Your T-score compares your bone mass to the “peak” (maximum) bone mass that the average person reaches.
Your T-score will help your doctor decide what you need to do to protect your bone health.