Tell me about a Bone Density Scan

Tell me about a bone density scan

A bone density scan (also known as a bone density test) is a simple scan that measures the density of your bones usually at the hip and spine.

You simply lie flat on a padded table, and the arm of the machine passes over your body. The scan takes approx 10-15 minutes. You remain clothed during the scan.

When should I have a bone density scan?

Women and men over 50 with particular risk factors should talk to their doctor about a bone density scan. See our How Dense are You? Test for common risk factors.

Why should I have a bone density scan?

If you have risk factors for low bone density you need to have a bone check up with a bone density scan. If your bone density is low, you may be more likely to fracture a bone in future.

Finding out this information as early as possible means you and your doctor can take action to keep your bones as strong as possible. If you have low bone density or osteoporosis, you need to know now.

What does the result of a bone density scan show me?

A bone density scan will determine if any action is needed to improve your bone health. The result will indicate if your bones are in the range of

  •     Normal
  •     Low bone density (called Osteopenia)
  •     Osteoporosis

What are common risk factors?

See the How Dense are You? Test for common risk factors

Medicare rebates?

Medicare rebates apply for many, but not all, people who will require a bone density scan. Your doctor will advise if you are eligible for a Medicare rebate. Some private health funds provide a reimbursement, please check with your fund.

Medicare Rebates for a bone density scan apply for people

  •     previously diagnosed with osteoporosis
  •     with one or more previous fractures from a minor incident
  •     taking corticosteroids (common for asthma)
  •     Women with early menopause
  •     Men with low testosterone
  •     who have Coeliac Disease (or other malabsorption conditions), overactive thyroid or parathyroid conditions, rheumatoid arthritis, liver or kidney disease
  •     70 years or over

For patients with risk factors, where rebates do not apply, a bone density scan can be paid for directly.

Bone density scans are widely available through medical imaging outlets, radiology centres, hospitals and some specialists. Your doctor will assess your risk before referring you for a test.

Other information for my bone health

For more information about bone health or osteoporosis see the following resources

Fact Sheets: Calcium  Vitamin D  Exercise

Consumer Booklet: What you need to know about osteoporosis?

Go back to the How Dense Are You? homepage



Author: Osteoporosis Australia Medical & Scientific Advisory Committee
Last updated: 07/06/2017 - 15:03