Bone density measurement

Bone density measurement is used to diagnose pathological bone loss. Bone atrophy (osteoporosis) is a creeping disease and does not cause any discomfort in the first stages. Bone density measurement is used for early detection of bone loss (osteoporosis) or for follow up treatments in the case of a known disease. With this examination technique, the bone mineral content is determined by the use of low X-rays.

For the exact evaluation, a current X-ray image of the lumbar spine is additionally required, which has to be taken directly before the bone density measurement.

Early detection

A timely diagnosis of bone loss is particularly important in order to initiate drug prophylaxis before the first fractures occur.

Especially in menopausal women and in men over the age of 50, bone density decreases. An examination is recommended for women from the age of 65 and for men from the age of 70. If additional risk factors exist, a timely preventive medical examination is advisable.

The examination costs are covered in different ways by the health insurance providers: The local health insurance provider covers women older than 65 years of age and men older than 70 years of age. The smaller health insurance providers cover the costs without any restriction. The VA doesn´t cover the bone density measurement at all which has to be paid by the patient (Private tariff: 45€).

Risk factors

  • Fractures without trauma
  • Hereditary burden
  • Prolonged cortisone therapy
  • Underweight, malnutrition
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Chronic joint or bowel inflammation
  • Lactose intolerance


How high is the radiation exposure during a bone density measurement?

X-rays are used to measure bone density. The radiation exposure of modern DXA devices is around 1 to 6 µSv, which is many times less than the average annual radiation exposure from the environment (earth radiation and radiation from space; around 2000 µSv).

What can be assessed in a bone density measurement?

With the help of bone density measurement, the doctor can check whether an osteoporosis exists. The examination is performed in order to detect the disease in a timely manner. Furthermore, the doctor can control the therapy or the course of the disease if osteoporosis already exists.