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Ultimate Guide To Understanding Tests Used To Detect Bone Problems

Our bones can be affected by medical conditions, just like our organs and other tissues in our body. These medical conditions that can affect our bones include fractures, inflammations, and even cancer. While fractures of the bone are common in young people, osteoporosis and arthritis are experienced mainly by older people. There are various tests and examinations that can be used to determine the problem with the bones, and they can range from bone profile tests to x-ray examinations. Below are a few more of these tests and techniques used to detect bone issues and problems. 

X-ray examination

X-ray examinations are medical procedures whereby different amounts of radiation can pass through different types of tissues to produce an x-ray image. The x-ray examination is used to look through different parts of the body. Unlike other tissues in the body, the bones absorb almost all the radiation because they are so dense; hence, they appear as white or grey outlines in the x-ray image. X-rays are perfect for examining the skeleton – not for soft tissues – because soft tissues like the muscles absorb all the radiation and do not appear on the x-ray image. Because x-rays always involve exposure to radiation, it should only be done when it is medically necessary, and pregnant women only have them in rare cases.

What is involved?

Before an x-ray, you will have to remove any clothing or jewelry from the part of the body to be x-rayed. Depending on the part of the body that will be x-rayed, you will either have to lie down, sit or stand. Your body will be positioned towards the radiation source and film while your x-ray is being taken. Your genitals will be protected by a lead apron if need be. The medical staff will also wear lead aprons for protection as well.

When is this approach used?

The x-ray examinations are used to detect or rule out problems like fractures, bone inflammations, abnormal position of bones, and signs of wear and tear.

Bone density tests

Bone density test or bone densitometry is a medical test that measures the number of minerals in the bones. The result of the tests tells us how resistant the bones are to fractures. Bone density is measured using a special x-ray technique called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA or DEXA). 

Bone density does not produce x-ray images; instead, it measures how easily x-rays pass through the bones. If the bones are porous and brittle, it means that more x-rays will pass through them. The amount of x-rays passing through the bones is expressed in a measurement known as the T-score. A T-score higher than -1 is considered normal, whereas a T-score between -1 and -2.5 is low. A score of -2.5 or lower means the patient has osteoporosis. 

What is involved?

For this test, you will have to lie flat on your back. If the density of the bones in your spine is to be measured, then your legs will be raised and bent at an angle of 90 degrees. For the neck and femur, your legs will be flat. A generator below the examination table produces x-rays while a scanner moves above your body to measure how much radiation was absorbed into the body.

When is this approach used?

This test method is used to determine whether someone has osteoporosis and is also used to determine how high the risk of bone fracture is.

Bone scans

Bone scans or bone scintigraphy produces images of bone metabolism. To get a clear image, a weak radioactive substance is injected into the body before the examination. This substance accumulates in the bones, making it easier to see the different bone structures in the image. Things like inflamed tissue and cancer metastases store more of this substance, which can be seen in the image. 

What is involved?

To prepare for the examination, the doctor injects the radioactive substance into a vein and waits for a few hours for the substance to travel through your entire body. Next, you lie down, and a special camera is used to take images as it moves over your body. 

When is this approach used?

Bone scans are used to determine if someone has a tumor growing in the bone or inflammation of the bone. It is also used to look at poorly healing fractures. 

Blood tests this is another method that is used to diagnose certain bone diseases like osteoporosis. Blood tests are used to determine risk factors and rule out other illnesses. Through blood tests, blood calcium levels can also be measured to find out if someone is getting enough calcium or not. This does not, however, provide any information about how much calcium there is in the bones. To find out about this, you will have to book a bone profile test in London or anywhere you are. Contact us at Blood London if you wish to find out more about bone profile test UK. Get in touch with us via call or email.

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