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Bone density scans

What is a bone density scan?

A fine beam of X-rays is used to measure the density of your bones. Scans are usually done of the lower part of your spine, and of one hip. Your forearm may also be scanned. The results indicate the strength of your bones. This information will help your doctor to decide if you have osteoporosis (brittle bones), and what treatment may be suitable for you.

What is involved?

For the scan you will have to lie on your back for about 10 minutes. You lie on an open couch, not inside a tunnel. The scan will be performed by a medical technologist, who will stay in the room with you during the scan.

Do I need to prepare for the scan?

It helps if you wear loose fitting clothing, preferably without metal zips or fasteners at the waist. You should not then need to take off any clothes. You can eat and drink as normal.

If I am taking tablets or other drugs, do I need to stop?

There is no need to change any regular treatment.

Is there anything I should tell the staff before the scan?

Yes, if you are a woman, please tell us if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant.

Will it hurt?

No. All you have to do is lie still for about two minutes for each scan.

Is the radiation dangerous?

No. The amount of radiation you receive is small. It is less than that from many other X-Ray examinations.

Do I need to do anything after the scan?

You are free to leave the hospital. The scan does not have any effect on you.

What happens to the results of the scan?

A report is sent to the doctor who asked us to do the scan.

I have other questions, who do I ask?

If you have any other questions, please ask the staff in the Medical Physics Department. You can telephone, or ask before the scan starts.

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Regional Medical Physics Department, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE7 7DN, UK.
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