During a bone-density procedure, the patient sits on a bench for a peripheral DXA scan of her forearm, wrist, heel or fingers, states Healthline. A more advanced procedure is the central DXA scan where the patient lies on a table, and an X-ray machine scans her hips and spine.
The bone mineral density test measures the amount of calcium in the bones using X-rays, explains Healthline. Another name for the test is the dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, or DXA, test. Doctors usually request such a test when they suspect that a patient's bones are weakening, as a preventative screening because the patient has reached an age where she is at a risk, or when the patient has symptoms of osteoporosis, a common type of bone disease that causes weakening of the bone tissue.
The National Institutes of Health recommends that certain people undergo preventative screening of their bone mineral densities because they are at an increased risk of osteoporosis, adds Healthline. These people include women over the age of 65, men over the age of 70, women over the age of 60 with a high risk of osteoporosis, and anyone taking glucocorticoid medications. Women also increase their risk if they smoke or have chronic kidney diseases.