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HealthInfo Canterbury

Osteoporosis tests & diagnosis

When you visit your general practice team, you will most likely have an examination and be asked some questions about your risk factors and whether you have previously had a broken bone.

You may also need to have some blood tests to check for any of the conditions that may cause or worsen osteoporosis.

Your doctor can calculate your risk of developing osteoporosis (and your risk of having a major broken bone) and can use this to help determine the best treatment option for you. You can do this yourself by using the Fracture risk assessment calculation tool (FRAX), which links into an assessment to help decide what investigations or treatments may be useful. You don't have to have had a bone density scan to try this calculation.

Bone density scans

Your doctor may suggest that you have a bone density scan. This is to look at how strong your bones are, and determine whether you have a low bone density or osteoporosis. In Canterbury, only a small number of bone density scans are available at no cost to you through the public health system. These are carried out at Christchurch Hospital or at a private provider.

You can pay to have a private bone density scan. The cost is $164.

If you do have a bone density scan, discuss your results with your general practice team.

If you have a low bone density or osteoporosis, your general practice team will play a key role in managing. Referral to a specialist is usually not needed.

On the next page: Living with osteoporosis

Endorsed by Canterbury DHB bone specialist. Last reviewed August 2015.

See also:

Preparing for your doctor's visit

Page reference: 46646

Review key: HIOSP-24517