How healthy are your bones?

March 15, 2012

The only definitive method of diagnosing osteoporosis or measuring bone mass is Bone Mineral Density Testing. While the test itself is painless and easy to undergo, having it done by a skilled technician and having it evaluated by a professional with expertise in the field of bone health is key to getting a truly accurate reading and diagnosis.

At Helen Hayes Hospital, we are very proud of our Bone Density Testing program, which has long been the region’s premiere center for bone densitometry. Our equipment is state-of-the art. Currently, we use both Hologic and Lunar dual x-ray absorptiometry. All tests are performed by radiation technologists who have been trained specifically on this equipment and who specialize exclusively in bone density testing.

The Bone Density Testing service at HHH is available to individuals with a prescription for a bone density test. Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance usually cover bone density testing. Candidates for the test include persons who have fractured after age 45, postmenopausal women, individuals with chronic liver, kidney, bowel or lung disease, individuals with a family history of fracture or osteoporosis, or for individuals who take steroids on a long-term basis. If you are at risk for osteoporosis, have had a fracture, or are otherwise concerned about your bone health, you should discuss the need for a bone density test with your doctor.

Helen Hayes Hospital’s Bone Density Testing service is part of our comprehensive Osteoporosis Center, which provides a full scope of services in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis. Along with physician evaluation and counseling, physical therapy and exercise classes, the Center also offers active support groups. Additionally, the Center is recognized internationally as a center of excellence in research into osteoporosis and bone disease. Each year, hundreds of individuals participate in ongoing research studies that are evaluating new treatment modalities and medications for this debilitating illness. In addition, our New York State Osteoporosis Prevention and Education Program ( serves as the Statewide Osteoporosis Resource Center offering educational materials and seminars throughout the state.

A bone density test involves simply laying flat and still on a comfortably padded surface while a machine scans the body. The test, which will be completed within 10 to 15 minutes, measures bone strength in the hip, spine and body and has very low levels of radiation. You should wear loose, comfortable clothing and you will be asked to remove jewelry or anything metal on your body.

To make an appointment for a Bone Density Test at Helen Hayes Hospital, please call us at 845-786-4318.

-Jeri W. Nieves, Ph.D.

Director, Bone Density Testing, Clinical Research Center