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Bone Density Tests and Differing Results

Q: Two years ago (at age 52), I had a bone density test at a radiology center and my Ob-Gyn reported that I was in the "very high" range for 26 year olds. This week I had a full body scan and was told the bone scan rating indicates severe decline for a woman of my age.

As I am physically very active and have not changed my day-to-day routine over the past few years, I find these differing results impossible to accept. I think I would have noticed a drastic change over such a short period of time. Which test is correct or can they both be?

Thank you, CC (Confused and Concerned!)

Dr. Donnica:
It is possible that both tests are correct.  A lot can change in 2 years, especially at your age.  Have you gone through menopause during this time?  The most dramatic period of bone loss for women is in the first 5 years of menopause.  You should speak with your doctor about preventive and treatment options so that you don't experience further bone density decline. 

This having been said, there is often variation in results between machines, and in the interpretation of testing results.  In general, I recommend that whenever possible, women have their repeat bone density tests on the same machines at the same centers.  The "gold standard" test is a DEXA.

For more information on osteoporosis, click here.
For more information about menopause, click here.

Best regards,
Donnica L. Moore, MD
President, DrDonnica.com

Created: 11/23/2002  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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