What is CT Bone Density?
A CT Bone Density scan (QCT) is an extremely accurate way to diagnose osteoporosis and determine your risk for a future fracture. There are several different machines that measure bone density such as DEXA and QCT (Quantitative Computed Tomography). QCT is felt to be the more accurate method of determining and following a patient’s bone density over time. However, patients should not switch back and forth between QCT and DEXA. Once a patient and their doctor choose QCT Bone Density analysis, future evaluations should also be performed with QCT, as the results will be a more accurate comparison of the patient’s true bone density changes over time.
QCT is a three-dimensional method obtained on a CT scanner that provides true bone density of the spine and hip. DEXA bone mineral density estimates, but not QCT, may be significantly biased by severe degenerative changes of the hip or spine, vascular calcifications, oral contrast agents (from other radiology exams), and foods or dietary supplements containing significant amounts of calcium. QCT is also often more accurate in patients with obesity.
QCT targets the trabecular bone (the first to show changes of bone loss) and measures it separately from the surrounding cortical bone, degenerative changes, bone spurs and vascular calcifications, which can mask osteoporosis in many patients.
Why should I consider a CT Bone Density Examination?
Osteoporosis, is a condition that often affects women after menopause, but may also be found in men. Osteoporosis involves a gradual loss of calcium, causing the bones to become thinner, more fragile, and more likely to break. If your bone density is found to be low, you and your physician can work together on a treatment plan to help prevent fractures before they occur. CT Bone Density testing is also effective in tracking the effects of treatment for osteoporosis or for other conditions that cause bone loss.
CT Bone Density testing is strongly recommended if you:
- are a post-menopausal woman and not taking estrogen.
- have a personal or maternal history of hip fracture or smoking.
- are a post-menopausal woman who is tall (over 5 feet 7 inches) or thin (less than 125 pounds).
- are a man with clinical conditions associated with bone loss.
- use medications that are known to cause bone loss, including corticosteroids such as Prednisone, various anti-seizure medications such as Dilantin and certain barbiturates, or high-dose thyroid replacement drugs.
- have type 1 (formerly called juvenile or insulin-dependent) diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, or a family history of osteoporosis.
- have high bone turnover, which shows up in the form of excessive collagen in urine samples.
- have a thyroid condition, such as hyperthyroidism.
- have experienced a fracture after only mild trauma.
- have had x-ray evidence of vertebral fracture or other signs of osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is not part of normal aging, although many people continue to believe this is the case. With the information obtained from a CT Bone Density scan, you and your doctor can decide what prevention or treatment steps are right for you.
How is a CT Bone Density scan performed?
The technologist begins by positioning the patient comfortably on the CT table. The table will move slowly into the CT scanner. Depending on the area of the body being examined, the increments of movement may be so small that they are almost undetectable, or large enough that the patient feels the sensation of motion. The CT Bone Density examination usually takes from 10 to 15 minutes to complete.
CT Bone Density is covered by most insurance plans. Call your carrier for verification of coverage. We are happy to assist patients with appropriate payment options for this procedure. We accept payment at the time of service or payment arrangements can be made through Imaging Associates before scheduling the procedure.
How do I get the results?
A final report, produced by one of Alaska Radiology Associate’s local specialized radiologists, will be available for most exams within two hours. Questions about your results should be directed to your referring health care provider. For any other questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us directly.
Who do I contact with questions?
Questions about the results of your exam should be directed to your primary health care provider. For any other questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us directly.