Bone Densitometry

If there is a possibility of pregnancy, please inform the technologist prior to the date of your examination.

What to expect

Your practitioner has requested that you have a bone density examination. This type of equipment can measure the bones of the spine, hip (femur) and sometimes other sites. It uses a very small amount of X-ray energy, only a fraction of that used for a chest X-ray. This small X-ray beam scans across the area of interest while you are lying on your back. The computerized system produces an image and an actual measurement of the bone density of the area scanned. Your physician uses this information in determining how to help reduce the risk of fracture.

On the day of your exam

Please arrive approximately 15 minutes prior to your appointment time to allow for parking and registration. The “scan” takes only a few minutes (per site) and normally is done for the spine and hip (femur). Plan to spend up to approximately one hour in the department.

The technologists operating the bone densitometer may use pillow-like positioning devices or ask you to lie in certain positions so the bone region being scanned will be accurately measured.

If you bring friends or family to the appointment they will be asked to have a seat in a waiting room during your test.  Children cannot be left unattended during the test, so please arrange for a caregiver.

Preparation and procedure

No calcium supplements (pills) should be taken the day prior to and the day of the exam, including Tums, Rolaids, etc. A bone density study should not be done within one week of imaging studies other than plain films. It is helpful for patients to bring a list of current medications. Even though a very small amount of X-ray energy is used, you should notify your practitioner if you are pregnant prior to the scan.

The procedure may not require removing any clothing, but any metal or dense objects (zippers, snaps and buttons) in the area of the spine, hip and pelvis will need to be removed as they may interfere with the measurement.


Our radiologist will study your examination and a report will be forwarded to your practitioner, from whom you may obtain the results. If you have any questions regarding this procedure, please contact our department at at 608-342-4740.

Date of appointment _______________________________________ Time_____________________

Your procedure will be performed at Southwest Health at 1400 Eastside Road – Platteville, WI 53818. Please use the Main Hospital Entrance and check in at the Registration Desk prior to your scheduled procedure.

If you cannot keep your appointment please contact the radiology department at 608-342-4740 so that me may accommodate another patient.

NOTE: It may take 2-3 days to obtain verification from your insurance company for exams that require prior authorization, such as CT, MRI, Nuclear Stress, Injections, etc.