Before reading a DEXA scan report, you need to know the parameters, especially the T-score that signifies strong bones, if the score is more than -1.
The elderly, especially women who have crossed the age of 65, need to undergo a DEXA scan to assess bone health.
DEXA, acronym for Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry, is a technology used for evaluating the bone strength. It calculates the bone mineral density (BMD), a key parameter to judge bone strength. A DEXA scan is a standard procedure to estimate the bone mineral density that declines during the normal aging process. Knowing how to read the test result, referred to as the DEXA scan report, is necessary to detect bone issues, if any.
Bone mineral density (BMD) measures the amount of minerals present in the bones, which helps to determine bone health. A DEXA scan figures out how much calcium is present in the bones. The procedure scans a specific part of the body, usually the hip, using an X-ray to evaluate bone density. Bone fragility, that increases the risk of osteoporosis, is something that can be easily detected using a DEXA scan.
Understanding the DEXA Scan Report
A DEXA scan report that provides information about bone density is primarily represented by 3 parameters, namely BMD, T-score, and the Z-score. It is explained below:
BMD, acronym for bone mass density, is measured in grams per square centimeter of bone area. If your BMD score is 1 or more, it is not a cause for concern.
T-score measured in units referred to as standard deviations, compares your bone density to that of a healthy individual of 30 years. The bone density of a group are always near to that of an average score (mean). The T-score calculates the standard deviation from the mean. At the age of 30, bone density will be at its highest, meaning, bone strength is maximum during this time. Hence, it is compared to that of a person under consideration. This comparison, which is nothing but the T-score, measures how far our bone density has deviated from the average peak bone density.
A healthy T score dangles in between +1 to -1 and signifies strong bones. In general, you have a healthy bone density if your T-score is more than -1. A T-score that hovers from -2.5 to -1 denotes osteopenia, suggesting low bone density. It is below normal peak bone mineral density. People with osteopenia are at an increased risk of osteoporosis, if timely treatment is not taken. DEXA scan report showing a T-score in the range of -2.5 to -3.0 indicates poor bone health, and points towards osteporosis, a condition that is typically marked by brittle bones. A T-score of -3.0 or lower is worrisome and denotes severe form of osteoporosis.
Z-score again calculated in standard deviations, compares your bone density as opposed to that of a healthy person of your age and sex. Z-score falling below -2 is indicative of the fact that, besides the normal aging process, other factors are responsible for causing loss of bone density.
The T-score is extremely important as far as diagnosis of osteoporosis is concerned. Doctors usually do not depend on the Z-score in assessing bone health. On the whole, a DEXA scan measures how dense our bones are, and depending on the report, the doctor may recommend appropriate treatment to improve bone health.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical professional.