Bone Mineral Densitometry

What is a bone mineral densitometry scan?

A bone mineral densitometry (BMD) scan uses low-energy x-rays to measure bone density, which is calculated by how much calcium and other types of minerals are present in your bone. It is used to diagnose osteoporosis and assess fracture risk. BMD scans can detect osteopenia, a precursor to osteoporosis, and can also be used to monitor the efficacy of osteoporosis treatment.

Your doctor may refer you for a BMD scan for many reasons, including if you:

  • Have acquired a medical condition that may weaken your bones
  • Are taking medication that may affect your bones’ ability to rebuild properly
  • Have lost at least 3.8cm in height, as this may indicate a compression fracture in your spine
  • Have had a drop in hormone levels
  • Have suffered a recent fracture in an injury or fall that would not usually result in a break

Do I need to prepare for my BMD scan?

No special preparation is required for a BMD scan. If you have any previous BMD results, please bring them along to your appointment so they can be compared against your current results. You will also be asked for your height, weight, and medical history before your scan.

It is best to wear loose, comfortable clothing with no metallic objects like zips or metal buttons. Please also remove jewellery, keys, wallets, belts, removal dental appliances, and any other metal objects, as these may all affect the quality of your scan. You will be provided with a gown before the scan if necessary.

If you take calcium supplements, please stop taking them 24 hours before your scan. Please let a staff member know if you are pregnant when booking your scan. Contrast materials can sometimes interfere with BMD scans, so please also let a staff member know if you have recently had a barium exam, a CT scan with contrast, or a nuclear medicine scan.

What happens during a BMD scan?

You will be asked to lie on the scanning bed before the machine scans your body. Your radiographer may use a cushioned box or a frame to ensure you are positioned correctly on the bed.

The machine uses two different x-ray beams to scan your body – these beams help to distinguish bone from other tissues. BMD scans usually include your lower spine and hips, but sometimes, other areas like the forearm may need to be scanned.

You may need to hold your breath for a few seconds while your radiologist takes the images – this helps to reduce the chance of images becoming blurred.

After your BMD scan, your report and images will be sent electronically to your doctor. Reports and images will be also available electronically via the patient app and web portal after your examination.

How long will my BMD scan take?

The scanning time is around 5 minutes, but the total duration of the appointment is about 30 minutes.

How much radiation dose of a BMD scan?

The radiation dose is very low – it is about one-tenth of the radiation dose you would get from a chest x-ray.

How much will my BMD scan cost?

The cost of your BMD scan will depend on your eligibility for a Medicare rebate. Please discuss your eligibility for a rebate with your referring doctor before booking an appointment with Qscan. Our customer service team will be able to provide you with more specific information, including any out-of-pocket costs (if relevant).


Contact Qscan