If your bone density is low, you might be at risk of osteoporosis

Get a DEXA Bone Mineral Density Test today to get a snapshot of your bones’ health
What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a common disease affecting over 1 million Australians. This disease makes bones become brittle leading to a higher risk of breaks than in normal bone. Osteoporosis occurs when bones lose minerals, such as calcium, more quickly than the body can replace them. This causes a loss of bone thickness (bone density or mass).

Osteoporosis can lead to fractures. As bones become thinner and less dense, even a minor bump or fall can cause a fracture. A fracture is a complete or partial break in a bone. Any bone can be affected by osteoporosis, but the most common sites are the hip, spine and wrist. Fractures in the spine due to osteoporosis can result in height loss or changes in posture. Osteoporosis usually has no symptoms until a fracture occurs. Fractures can lead to chronic pain, a loss of independence or disability, so managing bone health to avoid fractures is important.

Osteoporosis (extremely low bone density) Vs Normal Bone
What is Low Bone Density (Osteopenia)?

Low bone density is known as osteopenia. It is the range of bone density between normal bone health and clinically diagnosed osteoporosis. If you are found to have osteopenia your doctor will consult with you to review your health, medications and risk factors to determine the appropriate treatment to support your bone health. Although osteopenia can progress to osteoporosis, this is not the case for everyone.


What does the test tell me?

A bone density test will give you a T-score. The result will be in the range of:

  • Normal
  • Osteopenia (low bone density);
  • Osteoporosis
bone density (different scores)

What is bone densitometry?

Bone density (BD) or bone mineral density (BMD) can be tested using a medical procedure called bone densitometry. Most commonly, bone density test results are compared to the ideal or peak bone mineral density of a healthy young adult of the same gender. These test results are reported as T-scores. A T-score of 0 means your bone density is equal to the norm for a healthy young adult.

Differences between your bone density and that of the healthy young adult norm are measured in units called standard deviations (SDs). The more standard deviations below zero, the lower your bone density and the higher your risk of fracture. These T-scores will be reported as negative numbers.

Osteoporosis is usually diagnosed when a patient’s T-score is 2.5 SDs or more from the young normal (same gender) norm. This means a person with a T-score of -2.5 or below will be diagnosed with osteoporosis. A person with a t-score of less than -1.5 or above -2.5 would be diagnosed with decreased bone density or osteopenia.

Bone densitometry is performed by using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA).

What happens in a bone density (BD) test?

A bone density test or bone densitometry is a simple scan that measures the density of your bones. Patients remain clothed during the scan which simply involves lying flat on a padded table while the arm of the machine passes over your body. The scan takes approximately 10-15 minutes.

An examination under any of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) BD items covers the measurement of two or more sites and includes the interpretation and provision of a report, all of which are performed by the appropriate specialist (Radiologist).

Medicare Rebate

The Australian Government provides Medicare rebates for certain diagnostic imaging services and not all patients are eligible for Bone Densitometry (DEXA) Medicare rebate Items 12306 to 12322).

To be eligible for a Medicare rebate, the Bone Densitometry must meet specific criteria, refer to Medicare schedule.

To find out more, please email your referral slip to info@bodydexafit.com.au or contact us on 0409-647-886

Prior to your Bone Mineral Density Test, please complete this questionnaire prior to the test.

What are the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) BD items?

The MBS currently has six Bone densitometry items: 12306, 12312, 12315, 12320, 12321 and 12322.

Medicare benefits are payable for:

  • the diagnosis and monitoring of bone loss if a patient has certain specific medical conditions or is undergoing particular treatments likely to cause rapid bone loss;
  • the confirmation of clinically suspected low bone mineral density, usually following a fracture;
  • the subsequent monitoring of established low bone mineral density; and
  • the measurement of bone density in patients aged 70 years or over.

Are there any limits on the frequency of BD testing under Medicare?

For Medicare purposes, most bone density testing is subject to a restriction on the time interval between tests, from one every 12 to 60 months, depending on the MBS item. For those specific medical conditions or for patients undergoing particular treatments that may cause more rapid bone loss, a rebate is available for repeat testing at 12 monthly intervals.

Why are there restrictions on the frequency of BD testing?

Bone density loss is considered to be a relatively slow process. Changes in bone loss cannot be reliably measured by yearly testing. Repeat testing within 24 months is unlikely to assist in clinical decision making.

What are the benefits of bone density testing?