How do you read bone density test results?


Quick Answer

Bone density results are read by interpreting two numbers, the T-score and Z-score, according to Mayo Clinic. The T-score indicates how far above or below normal a person's bone density is. The Z-score is used to determine if a person has abnormal bone loss.

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Full Answer

The T-score is compared to the normal expectations of a normal adult when looking at bone density, claims Mayo Clinic. A T-score of -1 or above is considered normal. A T-score between -1 and -2.5 is an indication that the person may have a condition known as osteopenia. This condition means bone density is below normal, and it may lead to osteoporosis. If the T-score is -2.5 or below, the person being tested likely has osteoporosis.

The Z-score is displayed in a similar way, with Z-scores under -2 or lower indicating bone loss, explains Mayo Clinic. In many cases, this may indicate that the bone loss is caused by a condition other than normal aging. At this point, the doctor attempts to find out what condition may be causing the bone loss. For many people, once this underlying condition is treated, the bone loss slows or stops. The bone density test can only show that bone density is low; it cannot show the reason for the low bone density.

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