Bone Mineral Densitometry (BMD)

Last Updated: June 28, 2018

Definition - What does Bone Mineral Densitometry (BMD) mean?

Bone mineral densitometry (BMD) is a procedure used to measure bone mass or density. Bone mineral densitometry can help health care professionals assess the level of select minerals present in a person's bones and indicate his or her risk of fractures or developing osteoporosis. Most BMD methods use radiation absorption to calculate bone density. However, some screening tests use ultrasonography. Bone mineral densitometry may also be called bone densitometry or a bone density test.

WorkplaceTesting explains Bone Mineral Densitometry (BMD)

A bone mineral densitometry (BMD) allows a medical professional to assess the overall health of a person's bones. Individuals with low bone mass or density are more likely to suffer bone fractures. The test may be used to identify individuals who have osteoporosis, as this condition is characterized by low bone mass. Testing may also be used to assess whether the treatment of a patient for osteoporosis has been successful.

Patients who have been treated for cancer may experience lowered bone mineral density. For these individuals, BMD may be used to monitor their bone health during their cancer treatment. A limited BMD called a peripheral bone density test may be used as a screening device to assess the presence of risk factors that need further investigation.

The BMD measures the level of minerals, primarily calcium and phosphorus, present in a specific volume of bone. The terms bone mass and bone density, both refer to this same measurement. The test is non-invasive but does require exposure to a small amount of radiation. A specialized X-ray device is then used to measure the absorption of this radiation into the selected area of bone. Individual bone density results are compared to the standard level of density, called the normal level. Individuals with less than normal bone mass may be categorized as having low bone mass, osteoporosis, or severe osteoporosis.

Bone mineral densitometry may be recommended if an individual presents symptoms of a bone condition or has other risk factors. Peripheral bone density tests are often offered at health fairs and other wellness programs.

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