What We Do

The Bone Density and Body Composition Laboratory at the Osteoporosis Clinic is part of the Centre of Excellence in Skeletal Health Assessment, a group of bone diagnostic centres in partnership with the University of Toronto Joint Department of Medical Imaging.

Our lab is equipped with a DXA machine (Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry), used for diagnosing osteoporosis. DXA uses a very low dose of x-ray – one scan uses about the same amount of radiation as you'd get from two hours of direct sunlight. In comparison, a standard chest x-ray would use about 10 to 20 times more radiation than what you'll be exposed to from a DXA bone density scan.

A bone density scan measures the mineral content of your bones – the greater the amount of minerals present, the higher the bone density. BMD measurements help your doctor determine whether your bones are healthy and normal or if they're weak and prone to fracture.​

 Materials and Resources to Help You

Resources from the Patient & Family Education Program

Visit our Health Information section to find dedicated resources to help you understand your condition. Find the information you're looking for.​

 Your Procedure

How to Prepare

Please bring a list of your current medications. This includes prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, vitamin or mineral supplements and herbal remedies. This information will be required when you visit our clinic.

You will not need to remove your clothes for the procedure. Wearing loose, comfortable clothing is best. Avoid wearing clothes with buttons, zippers, or belts made of metal.

Checking In

You should come 15 minutes earlier than your scheduled time. When you arrive at the Bone Density and Body Composition Laboratory, check in at the reception desk and please have the following ready:

  • Health card (OHIP card). If you do not have an OHIP card, please bring another form of government-issued photo ID (such as a driver's license, passport, or other provincial health card). Please arrive 15 minutes before your appointment.
  • Your name, address and birth date

You'll be asked to fill out a questionnaire about your medical history, any family history of osteoporosis, any diseases or conditions that you may have and any medications that you are currently on.

Be sure to speak to the receptionist or technologist if there is any chance that you might be pregnant. In order to prevent radiation exposure to the fetus, bone density scans are not performed on pregnant women.

You should also notify the receptionist or technologist if you have had a barium x-ray in the last two weeks or if you had a nuclear medicine scan or injection of an x-ray dye within the last week.

Before the Bone Mineral Density (BMD) Scan

Once you have finished filling out the questionnaire, your weight and height will be measured. The technologist will explain the procedure and get you set up for your scan. You will not need to remove your clothes, but all metallic objects should be removed if possible.

During and After the BMD Scan

BMD scans are quick and painless. Your hip and spine are the areas most likely to be scanned. This usually takes about 15 minutes.

The Results of Your BMD Scan

Once your scan is completed, the results will be reviewed and the report will be sent to your referring doctor within two weeks. Your doctor will then decide on the appropriate steps for your treatment plan.

Please be mindful that the technologist can't give you the results during your visit.

How Long Will Your Appointment Be?

A BMD scan usually takes about 15 minutes.

We do everything that we can to stay on time. Unfortunately, your appointment may be delayed by unforeseen circumstances. We recommend that you come prepared for delays.


After your first scan, your doctor is best able to determine when another bone density scan should be done, and if other BMD scans will give us more information that can be helpful.

Osteoporosis medications can make your bones stronger and greatly reduce the risk of a fracture, even if a follow-up BMD scan shows little change in your bone density. In some cases, you may only need a scan once every few years. The BMD machine will likely not be able to detect any meaningful changes if a second scan is done within a year.​

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