What is a Bone Mineral Density exam?

A bone mineral density exam (BMD) uses an x-ray machine to take pictures of bones to determine risk for osteoporosis, bone fractures or to monitor bone health. It has very little preparation and is non-invasive so you won’t feel anything at all.

When will a doctor order a BMD?

Doctors may order the BMD for many different reasons. Some common reasons a doctor may order the test is if you are any of the following:

Aged over 65 years old

All persons are recommended to get an initial BMD test, with follow up BMD occurring regularly.

Aged between 50- 64 years old

  • Thin/Skinny Low Body Weight (less than 60kg)
  • Had any broken bones
  • Smoking or Alcohal (Excessive)
  • On Medications (Steroids)
  • Illness (Rheumatoid Arthritis, Liver disease, Inflammatory bowl disease)

Younger than 50 years old


  • Had any broken bones
  • Use of high risk medication (the doctor will assess you)
  • Some medical conditions

What happens during a BMD test?

Before doing the BMD test, notify the technologist if you may be pregnant, had a recent MRI, had recent barium swallows or barium enema or any surgery on hips or spine. Bring light clothing and avoid metal accessories or jewellery.
An x-ray technician will explain the procedure. You will be asked to remove any metal jewelry and may be asked to change into a gown. Then you will be taken to the BMD room. You will be asked to lie on the table. The technologist will help you get into the position that will provide the best pictures for your bones for the results. The pictures will be taken, you won’t feel anything as it is non invasive.
Once you are done, you are able to go home, you may drive if you want.

What happens after a BMD test?

The images are processed and examined by a radiologist. Then once results are ready, your doctor will discuss the results.
The doctor will provide you with further instructions.
You may need to do a follow-up BMD examination depending on the results, the follow up exams may be conducted yearly or every 3 to 5 years.

Informational/Procedural Video