Medically reviewed by Dr. Jacob Jaremko, M.D, Ph.D., FRCPC
What is a Pediatric Bone Density Test?
A pediatric bone density test uses ionizing radiation to measure mineral density and bone mass in patients under 18 years old. This exam is also commonly referred to as a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry scan (DEXA/DXA).
Patients who show lower than expected gains in bone size, mass, and strength are more vulnerable to fractures. Bone density tests help monitor bone health, assess fragility, and diagnose osteopenia and osteoporosis in younger patients.
How Do I Prepare My Child for Their Pediatric Bone Density Test?
There is no specific preparation for a pediatric bone density test. Your child will need to remove metallic objects like jewellery for their exam.
How Long Does a Pediatric Bone Density Test Take?
Pediatric bone density tests usually take about 10-15 minutes to complete. However, younger children that have a hard time remaining still may take 20-30 minutes to scan. Older children and adolescents might also take longer to image as their bone density can change during puberty.
How Much Does a Pediatric Bone Density Test Cost?
There is no cost for a pediatric bone density test so long as you have a valid Alberta Health Care card. We also accept out-of-province health care cards, except for Quebec. Many other health insurance providers also cover the cost for this exam. If you are unsure, you should reach out to our team or your insurance provider for confirmation.
What Happens After My Child’s Pediatric Bone Density Test?
One of our pediatric radiologists will review your child’s images, create a detailed report, and send the results to your referring doctor – usually within 3 days.
Pediatric Bone Density Protocol
Pediatric bone density is offered at our Terra Losa location for patients under 18 years old and MUST be referred by one of the following:
- General Surgery
- Internal Medicine
What Happens During a Pediatric Bone Density Test?
- We will ask your child to remove all jewellery and objects containing metal from the area of interest to help us capture the best images possible.
- We may also ask your child to change into a gown for the scan.
- Our technologist will position your child on the exam table.
- A scanner may pass over two to three areas – lower spine, hip, the whole body.
- Typically, the entire procedure lasts about 30 to 40 minutes. Your child must remain as still as possible during the scan. Any movement will result in blurry images.