Services

The Eunice Q. Sorin Women's Diagnostic Center provides a number of services to help detect and diagnose an array of breast diseases and conditions as well as osteoporosis.


MAMMOGRAPHY
Definition

A mammogram is an x-ray picture of the breasts. It is used to find tumors and to help tell the difference between noncancerous (benign) and cancerous (malignant) disease.

Why the Test is Performed
Mammography is performed to screen healthy women for signs of breast cancer. It is also used to evaluate a woman who has symptoms of a breast disease, such as a lump, nipple discharge, breast pain, dimpling of the skin on the breast, or retraction of the nipple.

Screening mammograms are improving the detection of early breast cancer, when it is more likely to be curable.
  • Most but not all organizations recommend women begin breast cancer screening at age 40 and have repeat mammograms every 1 to 2 years.
  • All women over age 50 should have a screening mammogram every year.
Women who have or had mother or sister with breast cancer should begin yearly mammograms earlier than the age the family member was diagnosed.
Experts recommend that certain women at very high risk of breast cancer should also have a breast MRI along with their yearly mammogram. Ask your doctor if you need an MRI.

Breast ultrasound may also be used to screen women at high risk.

In addition to mammography, clinical breast exams (the health care professional checks the breasts using the fingers) and monthly breast self-exams are often recommended.
• Women age 20 and older should have a clinical breast exam every 3 years.
• Women age 40 and older should have a clinical breast exam every year.

The American Cancer Society recommends that all women age 20 and older perform monthly breast self-examination.

These are general recommendations for mammography, clinical breast exams, and breast self-exam. Women should discuss with their personal health care provider how often to receive breast cancer screening, including mammography and clinical breast exam. Recommendations vary depending on personal risk factors such a strong family history of breast cancer.

How the Test is Performed
You will be asked to undress from the waist up and will be given a gown to wear. One breast at a time is rested on a flat surface that contains the x-ray plate. A device called a compression paddle will be pressed firmly against the breast to help flatten out the breast tissue.

The x-ray pictures are taken from two different angles. You may be asked to hold your breath as each picture is taken.

Sometimes you will be asked to come back at a later date for more mammogram images. This does not always mean you have breast cancer. Rather, the radiologist may simply need to evaluate an area using other methods. The methods may include magnification, a smaller paddle to obtain better compression and visualization in a particular area or ultrasound.

How to Prepare for the Test
Do not wear deodorant, perfume, powders, or ointments under your arms or on your breasts on the day of the mammogram. These substances may obscure the images. Tell your health care provider and the radiologist if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Please make sure to bring your written doctor’s order and insurance cards with you to your appointment.
Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your scheduled exam time.
Print and fill out the patient questionnaire completely. Please bring with you to your appointment.

Risks
The level of radiation is low and any risk from mammography is exceedingly low. If you are pregnant and need to have an abnormality checked, your belly area will be covered and protected by a lead apron.
Routine screening mammography is not done during pregnancy or lactation.

What Abnormal Results Mean
A well-outlined, regular, clear spot is more likely to be a noncancerous condition such as a cyst.
A poorly outlined, cloudy area is more likely to suggest breast cancer. However, some cancers may appear well-defined.
Sometimes, the doctor will use ultrasound to further examine your breast and determine the next best step. When findings from a mammogram or ultrasound look suspicious, a biopsy is performed to determine if it a cancerous or noncancerous condition.


Advantages of Digital Mammography
Currently mammography is still the best method to screen for breast cancer. The improvement of digital mammography has allowed us to obtain quicker, more enhanced images that results in our patients receiving faster and more accurate results.

The procedure for digital mammography is similar to traditional mammography in that compression is still applied to the breasts. However, digital mammography offers several advantages over traditional mammography.
  • Digital images can be manipulated, allowing the radiologist to zoom in or magnify areas of interest and the contrast of images can be changed. Being able to manipulate these images helps to reduce the need for repeat images.
  • Digital images can be viewed immediately and there are no films to process. Therefore, exam are completed in half the time of traditional mammography
  • Digital images are stored electronically on a computer. Patients no longer have to be concerned with films being lost or misplaced. There will always be an electronic file of your exams for reference.
  • It has been proven in the DMIST study that digital mammography was superior to traditional mammography in some women. In addition to the superior image quality, digital mammograms benefit women who are younger than 50, have dense breasts, and are pre- or perimenopausal.
BREAST ULTRASOUND
Breast ultrasound uses sound waves that cannot be heard by humans to look at the breast.

Why the Test is Performed
Common uses of ultrasound:
  • In addition to a mammogram or physical exam, if something abnormal is found. If a mammogram shows a growth, ultrasound can help determine whether it is a solid mass or a cyst.
  • By itself, to check a breast lump or nipple discharge
How the Test is Performed
You will be asked to undress from the waist up and put on a gown. During the test, you will lie on your back on the examining table.
A water-soluble gel is placed on the skin of the breast. A hand-held device (transducer) directs the sound waves to the breast tissue. The transducer is moved over the skin of the breast to create a picture that can be seen on a screen.

How to Prepare for the Test
Because you need to remove your clothing from the waist up, it may be helpful to wear a two-piece outfit. On the day of the test, do not use any lotions or powders on your breasts or wear deodorant under your arms.
Please make sure to bring your written doctor’s order and insurance cards with you to your appointment.
Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your scheduled exam time.

Risks
There are no risks associated with breast ultrasound. There is no radiation exposure.

What Abnormal Results Mean
Ultrasound can help show noncancerous growths such as cysts, fibroadenomas, or lipomas. A cyst is a fluid-filled sac. A fibroadenoma is a noncancerous solid growth. Lipomas are noncancerous fatty lumps that can occur anywhere in the body, including the breasts.
Breast cancers can also be seen with ultrasound.


BREAST MRI SCAN
Definition

A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of the breast is a noninvasive method to create detailed pictures of the breast and surrounding tissues. It may be done in combination with mammography or ultrasound. However, it is not a replacement for mammography.

Unlike x-rays and computed tomographic (CT) scans, which use radiation, MRI uses powerful magnets and radio waves. The MRI scanner contains the magnet. The magnetic field produced by an MRI is about 10 thousand times greater than the earth's.

The magnetic field forces hydrogen atoms in the body to line up in a certain way (similar to how the needle on a compass moves when you hold it near a magnet). When radio waves are sent toward the lined-up hydrogen atoms, they bounce back, and a computer records the signal. Different types of tissues send back different signals.

Single MRI images are called slices. The images can be stored on a computer or printed on film. One exam produces dozens or sometimes hundreds of images.

Why the Test is Performed
MRI provides detailed pictures of the breast. It also provides clear pictures of parts of the breast that are difficult to see clearly on ultrasound or mammogram.
Breast MRI may also be performed to:
  • Check for more cancer in the same breast or the other breast after breast cancer has been diagnosed
  • Distinguish between scar tissue and tumors in the breast
  • Evaluate a breast lump (usually after biopsy)
  • Evaluate an abnormal result on a mammogram or breast ultrasound
  • Evaluate for possible rupture of breast implants
  • Find any cancer that remains after surgery or chemotherapy
  • Guide a biopsy (rare)
  • Screen for cancer in women at very high risk for breast cancer (such as those with a strong family history)
  • Screen for cancer in women with very dense breast tissue
An MRI of the breast can also show:
  • Blood flow through the breast area
  • Blood vessels in the breast area
How the Test is Performed
You may be asked to wear a hospital gown or clothing without metal fasteners (such as sweatpants and a t-shirt). Certain types of metal can cause inaccurate images.
You will lie on your stomach with your breasts hanging down into cushioned openings. The narrow table slides into the middle of the MRI machine.

Some exams require a special dye (contrast). The dye is usually given before the test through a vein (IV) in your hand or forearm. The dye helps the radiologist see certain areas more clearly.

During the MRI, the radiologic technologist will watch you from another room. Several sets of images are usually needed, each taking 2 - 15 minutes. The examination takes approximately 1 hour to complete.

How to Prepare for the Test
Before the test, tell the radiologist if you currently undergo dialysis, as this may affect whether you can have IV contrast.

If you fear confined spaces (have claustrophobia), tell your doctor before the scan. You may be given a medicine to help you feel sleepy or less anxious.

The strong magnetic fields created during an MRI can interfere with certain implants, particularly pacemakers. Persons with cardiac pacemakers cannot have an MRI and should not enter an MRI area.

You may not be able to have an MRI if you have any of the following metallic objects in your body:
  • Brain aneurysm clips
  • Certain artificial heart valves
  • Inner ear (cochlear) implants
  • Recently placed artificial joints
  • Some older types of vascular stents
Tell your health care provider if you have one of these devices when scheduling the test, so the exact type of metal can be determined.

Before an MRI, sheet metal workers or any person that may have been exposed to small metal fragments should receive a skull x-ray to check for metal in the eyes.
Because the MRI contains a magnet, metal-containing objects such as pens, pocketknives, and eyeglasses may fly across the room. This can be dangerous, so they are not allowed into the scanner area.

Other metallic objects are also not allowed into the room:
  • Items such as jewelry, watches, credit cards, and hearing aids can be damaged.
  • Pins, hairpins, metal zippers, and similar metallic items can distort the images.
Removable dental work should be taken out just before the scan.

How the Test Will Feel
An MRI exam causes no pain. Some people may become anxious inside the scanner. If you have difficulty lying still or are very anxious, you may be given a mild sedative. Excessive movement can blur MRI images and cause errors.

The table may be hard or cold, but you can request a blanket or pillow. The machine produces loud thumping and humming noises when turned on. You can wear ear plugs to help reduce the noise.

An intercom in the room allows you to speak to the person operating the scanner at any time. Some MRIs have televisions and special headphones that you can use to help the time pass.

There is no recovery time, unless you need sedation. After an MRI scan, you can resume your normal diet, activity, and medications.

Risks
MRI contains no ionizing radiation. To date, there have been no documented significant side effects of the magnetic fields and radio waves used on the human body.
The most common type of contrast (dye) used is gadolinium. It is very safe. Allergic reactions to the substance rarely occur. The radiologic technologist will monitor your heart rate and breathing.

MRI is usually not recommended for acute trauma situations, because traction and life-support equipment cannot safely enter the scanner area and the exam can take quite a bit of time.

People have been harmed in MRI machines when they did not remove metal objects from their clothes or when metal objects were left in the room by others.

Considerations
Breast MRI is more sensitive than mammogram, especially when it is performed using contrast dye. However, breast MRI may not always be able to distinguish breast cancer from noncancerous breast growths. This can lead to a false positive result.

MRI also cannot pick up tiny pieces of calcium (microcalcifications), which mammogram can detect.
A biopsy is needed to confirm the results of a breast MRI.

What Abnormal Results Mean
Results depend on the nature of the problem. Different types of tissues send back different MRI signals. For example, healthy tissue sends back a slightly different signal than cancerous tissue.
Abnormal results may be due to:
  • Breast cancer
  • Cysts
  • Leaking or ruptured breast implants
Consult your health care provider with any questions and concerns.

STEREOTACTIC BREAST BIOPSY

Why the Test is Performed
This test may be done if your doctor suspects cancer due to abnormal findings on a mammogram or ultrasound of the breast, or during a physical exam.
To identify whether someone has breast cancer, a biopsy must be done. Tissue and fluid from the abnormal area are removed and examined underneath a microscope.

Stereotactic breast biopsy is often used when a small growth or calcifications are seen on a mammogram, but cannot be seen using an ultrasound of the breast.

If an area is too close to the skin surface or too close to the chest wall, a stereotactic breast biopsy may not be able to be performed. In these cases, a wire localization biopsy will need to be scheduled.

How the Test is Performed
You will be asked to undress from the waist up.
You be asked to lie facing down on the biopsy table. The breast that is being biopsied will hang through an opening in the table. The table is raised and the doctor will perform the biopsy from underneath.

A stereotactic biopsy includes the following steps:
  • The radiologic technologist will first localize the area of interest using stereotactic imaging.
  • Then the radiologic technologist will clean the area on your breast, and the radiologist will then inject a numbing medicine. This may sting a little bit.
  • The breast is pressed down to hold it in position during the procedure. You need to hold still while the biopsy is being performed.
  • The doctor will make a very small cut on your breast over the area that needs to be biopsied.
  • Using a special machine, a needle is guided to the exact location of the abnormal area. Several samples of breast tissues are obtained.
  • A small metal clip or needle may be placed into the breast in the biopsy area to mark it for biopsy, if needed.
The procedure usually takes about 1 hour, including the time it takes for the x-rays. The actual biopsy only takes several minutes.

After the tissue sample has been taken, the needle is removed. Ice and pressure are applied to the site to stop any bleeding. A bandage and Steri-strips will be applied to absorb any fluid. You will not need stitches after the needle is taken out.

How to Prepare for the Test
The Women’s Diagnostic Center will schedule appointments for our patients with a surgeon. The surgeon will review the case and go over all possible options for our patients and answer any questions they may have. The surgeon will also be able to interpret the pathology results and provide any follow-up care, if needed.

Please do not take any aspirin or blood thinners for 5 days prior to your appointment. Please have someone drive you, arrive one half hour prior to your scheduled time and allow approximately 2 hours for your exam. Plan to take it easy for the day of and the day after your biopsy.

Tell your doctor if you may be pregnant before having an open biopsy.

Do not wear lotion, perfume, powder, or deodorant underneath your arms or on your breasts.

How the Test Will Feel
You may feel a sharp, stinging sensation when the local anesthetic is injected. During the procedure, you may feel slight discomfort or light pressure.
Lying on your stomach for up to 1 hour may be uncomfortable. Using cushions or pillows may help. Some patients are given a pill to help relax them before the procedure.
After the test, the breast may be sore and tender to the touch for several days. Do not do any heavy lifting or work with your arms for 24 hours after the biopsy. You can use acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain relief.

Risks
There is a slight chance of infection at the injection or surgical cut site.
Excessive bleeding is rare, but may require draining or re-bandaging. Bruising is common.

Normal Results
A normal result means there is no sign of cancer.
Your doctor or nurse will let you know when you need a follow-up mammogram or other tests.

What Abnormal Results Mean
A biopsy can identify a number of breast conditions that are not cancer or precancer, including:
  • Adenofibroma
  • Fibrocystic breast disease
  • Mammary fat necrosis
Biopsy results may show precancerous breast conditions, including:
  • Atypical ductal hyperplasia
  • Atypical lobular hyperplasia
  • Intraductal papilloma
Two main types of breast cancer may be found:
  • Ductal carcinoma starts in the tubes (ducts) that move milk from the breast to the nipple. Most breast cancers are of this type.
  • Lobular carcinoma starts in parts of the breast called lobules, which produce milk.
Depending on the results of the biopsy, your surgeon will be able to instruct you on the best treatment necessary.

CYST ASPIRATION

What is a breast cyst?
A breast cyst is a fluid-filled sac (like a tiny balloon) inside the breast. Breast cysts are common in women. They can cause a little pain, but they are usually benign (noncancerous).

What is breast cyst aspiration?
In breast cyst aspiration, your doctor uses a small needle to drain fluid from a cyst.

When is breast cyst aspiration used?
A breast lump that you can feel might hurt or make you worry about cancer. Breast cyst aspiration can help your doctor find out if the lump you feel is a cyst or a tumor. Aspiration gives you this information right away, so you don't have to wait for the results of a mammogram or an ultrasound exam.

How is breast cyst aspiration performed?
Your doctor might numb your skin first. Then, your doctor will insert a small needle into the breast lump. He or she may use an ultrasound to get a better picture of the lump. Using a syringe, your doctor will try to drain fluid from the lump.

If the lump is a cyst that contains watery fluid, and the cyst goes away after it is drained, you will not need other tests.

If the lump contains bloody fluid, your doctor will send the fluid to a lab to find out what it is. If the lump is solid, your doctor may need to remove a tiny bit of the lump and send it to a lab to be examined. At the lab, the fluid or sample from the lump can be examined under a microscope to look for cancer cells.

How to Prepare for the Test
The Women’s Diagnostic Center will schedule appointments for our patients with a surgeon. The surgeon will review the case and go over all possible options for our patients and answer any questions they may have. The surgeon will also be able to interpret the pathology results and provide any follow-up care, if needed.

Please do not take any aspirin or blood thinners for 5 days prior to your appointment. Please have someone drive you, arrive one half hour prior to your scheduled time and allow approximately 2 hours for your exam. Plan to take it easy for the day of and the day after your biopsy.

Tell your doctor if you may be pregnant before having an open biopsy.

Do not wear lotion, perfume, powder, or deodorant underneath your arms or on your breasts.

What are the benefits of breast cyst aspiration?
Your doctor may be able to diagnose your breast lump on the same day that you get the aspiration. If the lump is clearly a cyst, you will know right away, and you might not need to have other tests performed.

What are the risks of breast cyst aspiration?
Before you have breast cyst aspiration, your doctor will talk to you about possible problems. You might have some discomfort where the needle goes in. You might have a little bruise on your breast. You might get an infection where the needle goes in.

Do I need to see my doctor again after I have breast cyst aspiration?
Yes. If the lump in your breast is a cyst and the cyst is drained successfully, your doctor will want to check the area in 4 to 6 weeks to make sure that the cyst has not filled up with fluid again. This follow-up visit is important. A cyst that refills with fluid can be a problem. If you have a cyst that refills at any time, call your doctor.

ULTRASOUND GUIDED BREAST BIOPSY

Why the Test is Performed
An ultrasound-guided breast biopsy may be done to evaluate abnormal findings on a mammogram or breast ultrasound, or during a physical exam.
To determine whether someone has breast cancer, a biopsy must be done. Tissue and fluid from the abnormal area are removed and examined under a microscope.

How the Test is Performed
Before the procedure, you will be asked to undress from the waist up. You will wear a robe that opens in the front.
You will be awake during the biopsy. You will lie on your back. The Breast Health Navigator will first clean the area on your breast, and the radiologist will then inject a numbing medicine.
  • The radiologist will make a very small cut on your breast over the area that needs to be biopsied.
  • The radiologist will use an ultrasound machine to guide the needle to the abnormal area in your breast that needs to be biopsied.
  • Several biopsies may be taken through the same needle.
  • A small metal clip may be placed into the breast in the area of the biopsy to mark it, if needed.
The biopsy is done using fine needle aspiration, a hollow needle (called a core needle), or a vacuum-powered device, depending on the area and the radiologist’s preference.

Once the tissue sample has been taken, the needle is removed. Ice and pressure are applied to the site to stop any bleeding. A bandage and Steri-strips will be applied to absorb any fluid. You will not need any stitches after the needle is taken out.

How to Prepare for the Test
The Women’s Diagnostic Center will schedule appointments for our patients with a surgeon. The surgeon will review the case and go over all possible options for our patients and answer any questions they may have. The surgeon will also be able to interpret the pathology results and provide any follow-up care, if needed.

Please do not take any aspirin or blood thinners for 5 days prior to your appointment. Please have someone drive you, arrive one half hour prior to your scheduled time and allow approximately 2 hours for your exam. Plan to take it easy for the day of and the day after your biopsy.

Tell your doctor if you may be pregnant before having an open biopsy.

Do not wear lotion, perfume, powder, or deodorant underneath your arms or on your breasts.

How the Test Will Feel
When the doctor injects the numbing medicine, it may sting a bit.
During the procedure, you may feel slight discomfort or light pressure. You should not feel any pain.
After the test, the breast may be sore and tender to the touch for several days. Do not do any heavy lifting or work with your arms for 24 hours after the biopsy. Use acetaminophen (Tylenol) to relieve pain.

Although you may have some bruising, there should be no scars left in the breast or on the skin.

Risks
There is a slight chance of infection at the injection or incision site. Excessive bleeding is rare.

Normal Results
A normal result means there is no sign of cancer or other breast problems.
Your doctor or nurse will let you know if and when you need a follow-up mammogram or other tests.

What Abnormal Results Mean
A biopsy can identify a number of breast conditions that are not cancer or precancer, including:
  • Adenofibroma
  • Fibrocystic breast disease
  • Mammary fat necrosis
Biopsy results may show precancerous breast conditions, such as:
  • Atypical ductal hyperplasia
  • Atypical lobular hyperplasia
  • Intraductal papilloma
Abnormal results may mean that you have breast cancer. Two main types of breast cancer may be found:
  • Ductal carcinoma starts in the tubes (ducts) that move milk from the breast to the nipple. Most breast cancers are of this type.
  • Lobular carcinoma starts in parts of the breast called lobules, which produce milk.
Depending on the results of the biopsy, your surgeon will be able to instruct you on the best treatment necessary.

WIRE/NEEDLE LOCALIZATION BIOPSY

Why the Test is Performed
A breast imaging examination has shown an abnormal area that your healthcare provider wants evaluated through a biopsy. Because this area can be seen by mammography or ultrasound, the area will be marked with a wire by the radiologist to assist your surgeon in removing the tissue. This procedure is called a wire/needle localization.

An area was unable to be localized by stereotactic breast biopsy or ultrasound guided core biopsy. If an area is too close to the skin surface or too close to the chest wall, a stereotactic breast biopsy may not be able to be performed.

How the Test is Performed
The procedure involves two steps. The first step is a wire/needle localization. And the second step is the surgical biopsy.

Step 1: Wire/Needle Localization
A radiologist performs the wire localization in the mammography or ultrasound suite. This takes approximately 30 minutes.
Mammography or ultrasound guidance will be used to assist the radiologist in localizing the area.
The radiologist will cleanse the skin around the insertion point with alcohol and numb the area.

A small needle will be guided into the breast until the needle tip touches the area of abnormality. Because the breast tissue has few nerves, the needle may cause only minor discomfort.

The radiologist will guide a small wire through the needle. The needle is then removed and the wire will be taped to your skin.
A final mammogram will be taken to verify accurate wire placement. You will then go to the hospital’s surgical waiting area.

Step 2: Surgical Biopsy
The biopsy will take place following the wire/needle localization. Nurses and anesthesia staff will help you prepare for surgery and answer any questions you may have. You will get medicine to help you relax and the biopsy site will be numbed.

After the biopsy, you will rest in a recovery suite. Nurses will check the biopsy area and keep you comfortable. At home, you may want to put an ice pack over the biopsy area for several hours. You may also want to wear a supportive bra for several days or nights to help with any discomfort.

Are there any restrictions before the exam?
Do not take aspirin three days before the biopsy. If you are on blood thinners, please discuss this with your surgeon.

When will I know the results?
Your surgeon should receive the results from the lab in three to five working days. Your surgeon will call you. If you do not hear from your surgeon in five days, please call your surgeon’s office.

General Information
Family members and friends who go with you to the hospital may wait in the surgical waiting area.
Have someone drive you home after the biopsy.
If you had medicine that makes you sleepy, someone should be with you for 24 hours afterwards.

BONE DENSITY TEST

Definition
A bone mineral density (BMD) test measures how much calcium and other types of minerals are present in a section of your bone. Your health care provider uses this test, along with other risk factors, to predict your risk of bone fractures in the future. Bone fracture risk is highest in people with osteoporosis.

Alternative Names
BMD test; Bone density test; Bone densitometry; DEXA scan; DXA; Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry

Why the Test is Performed
Guidelines recommend screening for those who are thought to be at increased risk for osteoporosis:
  • Women over age 65 and men over age 70
  • Women under age 65 and men ages 50 - 70 who have risk factors such as:
    • A fracture in any man or woman over age 50
    • Chronic rheumatoid arthritis, chronic kidney disease, eating disorders
    • Early menopause (either from natural causes or surgery)
    • History of hormone treatment for prostate cancer or breast cancer
    • Significant loss of height (See: Compression fractures of the back)
    • Smoking
    • Strong family history of osteoporosis
    • Taking corticosteroid medications (prednisone, methylprednisolone) every day for more than 3 months
    • Three or more drinks of alcohol per day on most days
If you are being treated for osteoporosis, BMD testing can help your health care provider monitor your response to the treatment.

The results are used as part of the FRAX scoring system, which considers bone density test results with other fracture risk factors. From this score, you and your doctor can determine whether you might need medication to treat the osteoporosis.

How the Test is Performed
While you are lying on a cushioned table, a scanner passes over your body. Typically, the machine takes x-rays of your lower spine and hip. This is called a central DEXA scan. In most cases you won't need to undress.

How to Prepare for the Test
Do not have any imaging studies that require contrast, barium or IVP dye 1 week prior to your bone density exam. (including Nuclear medicine studies)

Do not have any of the following medications for 24hrs prior to the scan:
Fosamax, Actonel, Boniva, Forteo, Reclast or Evista
Miacalcin Nasal Spray
Calcium

Do not wear clothing that has metal details at the waistline or hip areas. NO plastic or metal zippers, NO jean-styled clothing if there are metal details.

Bring a list of any medications you take. Please contact your insurance company prior to the test to determine whether a referral is needed. Bring your insurance cards and any referrals needed on the day of the exam.

Print and fill out the patient questionnaire and bring with you to your appointment. Arrive 15 minutes prior to your schedule appointment time.

How the Test Will Feel
The scan is painless, although you will need to remain still during the test.

Risks
BMD testing involves exposure to a low level of radiation. Most experts feel that the risk is very low compared with the benefits of identifying osteoporosis before you break a bone.

Normal Results
The results of your test are usually reported as a "T score" and "Z score."
  • The T score compares your bone density with that of healthy young women.
  • The Z score compares your bone density with that of other people of your age, gender, and race.
In either score, a negative number means you have thinner bones than the standard. The more negative the number, the higher your risk of a bone fracture.
A T score is within the normal range if it is -1.0 or above.

What Abnormal Results Mean
Bone mineral density testing does not diagnose fractures. However, along with other risk factors you may have, it helps predict your risk of having a bone fracture in the future. Your doctor will help you understand the results.
  • A T score between -1 and -2.5 indicates the beginning of bone loss (osteopenia).
  • A T score below -2.5 indicates osteoporosis.