What is the difference between a bone density test and a bone scan?


A bone density test (also known as bone densitometry, DEXA, or DXA) uses x-ray technology to measure how many grams of calcium and other minerals are present in one section of your bone. Bone with a high mineral content is considered denser and therefore stronger. This test is used to determine if you have osteoporosis or osteopenia.

A bone scan requires the injection of a radioactive tracer and the use of a camera to take images of where the bone takes up the tracer. This procedure is typically used to detect areas of bone growth, breakdown, or other damage, which can indicate fracture, cancer, arthritis, or other problems.

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