Understanding the results of your bone density test

For women, just as important as a mammogram or Pap test is a bone density test. This quick and painless evaluation, which is recommended for women after menopause, measures bone health. It will let you know if you are at risk for osteoporosis.

The bone density test produces two scores: the T score and the Z score.

  • The T-score represents the amount of bone you have compared to someone with peak bone mass, (like example, a 30-year-old healthy adult).
  • The Z score compares the amount of bone you have with someone your same age and gender.
  • A T-score of minus one and higher is normal. A T-score minus two or below should concern a 55-year-old woman and might justify medication. Osteopenia occurs at minus one to minus 2.5. Osteoporosis occurs at lower than minus 2.5.
  • A negative Z score means you have thinner bones than the average of others in your age group; positive means you have better.

Depending on the test results, your health care provider may suggest a number of actions, from starting medication that helps maintain or build bone, to urging you to exercise more and pay attention to your calcium and vitamin D intake.