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Medical Imaging

Nuclear Medicine > Exams & Procedures > Bone Mineral Density

This test determines the bone mineral content of the body as a measure of how strong the bones are. This test helps determine your risk of breaking bones (fracture) and provides your doctor with the necessary information to take precautions to prevent fractures.

This test involves using a weak X-ray beam to measure the density of your bones in two locations: hip joint and lower back (lumbar spine).


  • You should not have any X-ray tests that use an X-ray blocking contrast material (such as barium) for two weeks prior to the test.
  • Do not wear clothing that has a lot of metal accessories (such as rivets, zippers, metal tabs, etc.).
  • Bring a list of all medications and supplements you take. This includes vitamins, herbal remedies, and holistic medications.
  • Do not bring children or pregnant women with you to the department. We do not want to expose them to unnecessary radiation.
  • Any of these procedures is subject to change according to the nuclear medicine physician. The duration of the tests is a rough estimate. Please be aware that the time may be lengthened if a scan has to be repeated, if emergency cases are brought to the department or due to unforeseen circumstances.

About the Procedure

  • The procedure takes about 15 minutes.
  • A technologist will briefly explain the test to you and try to answer any questions you may have about the procedure.
  • A technologist will ask you a few questions about your medical history and medications.
  • You will be asked to remove any metal objects from your pockets and around your waist. If you have a metal zipper you will be asked to slide it down for the scan. You usually do not have to change your clothing.
  • You will be asked to lie down on a bed.
  • A camera will be positioned over one of your hips and your lower back.
  • A small X-ray beam will be used to take a picture of your hip and lower back.
  • The picture will be analyzed for bone density measurements.

Note: We have two facilities, one in the nuclear medicine department inside the hospital and one located across the street from the hospital at 61 Queen Street. Please refer to your requisition (referral) as to where you should go. To get to the bone density unit at 61 Queen you must take the elevators to the seventh floor and check in with the receptionist. The telephone number for the 61 Queen Street bone density unit is 416-867-7424.