A bone mineral density (BMD) test, also called a bone mass measurement, is used to measure bone density and determine fracture risk for osteoporosis. It may also be used to determine how effective an osteoporosis treatment is. The National Osteoporosis Foundation
recommends BMD testing for the following individuals
- All women aged 65 and older regardless of risk factors
- Younger postmenopausal women with one or more risk factors.
- Postmenopausal women who present with fractures (to confirm the diagnosis and determine disease severity).
- Estrogen deficient women at clinical risk for osteoporosis.
- Individuals with vertebral abnormalities.
- Individuals receiving, or planning to receive, long-term glucocorticoid (steroid) therapy.
- Individuals with primary hyperparathyroidism.
- Individuals being monitored to assess the response or efficacy of an approved osteoporosis drug therapy.
While there are many different types of BMD tests, all are non-invasive. Most tests differ in which bones are measured to determine the BMD result.
These tests include :
- Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA or DEXA)
- Quantitative Computed Tomography (QCT)
- Qualitative Ultrasound (QUS)
- Single Photon Absorptiometry (SPA)
- Dual Photon Absorptiometry (DPA)
- Digital X-ray Radiogrammetry (DXR)
- Single Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (SEXA)
The test works by measuring a specific bone or bones, usually the spine, hip, and wrist. The density of these bones is then compared with an average index based on age, sex, and size. The resulting comparison is used to determine risk for fractures and the stage of osteoporosis in an individual.
Average bone mineral density = BMC / W [g/cm²]
BMC = bone mineral content = g/cm
W = width at the scanned line 
Bone mineral density