Bone Mineral Density (BMD)


Read PDF version BMD Information Pamphlet

BMD Requisition 

Hours of operation:  

Three - four days a week between 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM (no weekends)

Years ago, the only time osteoporosis, a disease that causes bones to become more fragile and likely to break, could be detected was after you broke a bone and had an x-ray. By then your bones could already be weak.

Today, a bone mineral density test or BMD exam (also called a bone densitometry test), can determine if you have osteoporosis or are at risk for this disease before you break any bones. This exam uses low-dose x-ray to measure how many grams of calcium and other bone minerals are packed into a segment of bone. The higher the mineral content, the denser the bones are and the risk of fracture due to fragile bones is lower.

A BMD is a fairly accurate predictor of your risk and the results from this test are compared with a standard of other people your age, sex and similar characteristics. This determines if you are low risk or high risk.

A bone mineral density (BMD) exam is not a bone scan (this exam is a Nuclear Medicine exam performed using radioisotopes).

BMD exams are easy, fast and painless. The only preparation required is to not take a calcium supplement the morning of the exam. Your physician’s office will make the appointment for you through Central Booking at WGH and will give you a BMD requisition that documents the exam requested, clinical information and any preparations required for the exam. This special BMD requisition also has an information sheet for you to fill in. Also, bring a list of your current medications to your appointment. You must bring this requisition and your Health card to your appointment. The exam will not be performed if there is no requisition for the exam.

For this exam, you will lie on a padded BMD table for a few minutes while the scanner – a mechanical arm-like device – passes over your body. It will not touch you. There is radiation emitted during this exam and the exposure during a BMD is commonly about one tenth of the amount emitted for a chest x-ray.

The exam usually takes about 20 minutes to complete. The radiologist will interpret the exam and the results will be sent to your physician within 3-5 working days.