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Bone mineral densitometry (BMD) is a type of X-ray that measures bone density to determine if you are at risk of fractures or have osteoporosis. This exam is also known as dual-energy absorptiometry or DEXA scan.

A BMD exam involves a thin, low-dose X-ray beam with two distinct energy peaks being passed through the spine, hip, or forearm. One peak is absorbed mainly by soft tissue and the other by bone. Special computer software can subtract the soft tissue information and display bone density measurements, such as how many grams of calcium and other bone minerals are in a square centimeter of bone. Generally, the higher the mineral content, the denser the bone is, and the denser the bones are, the less likely they are to fracture. Early detection is important because you may not even notice you have it until you sustain a painful fracture.

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