Our bone mineral densitometry (BMD) service is located at Grand River Hospital’s KW Campus at 835 King Street West in Kitchener in the medical imaging department (second floor of the hospital’s D-wing).

The bone density program at the Grand River Hospital was reviewed on April 16, 2016 and re-accredited for another 5 years by a panel of the CBMD Facility Accreditation Advisory Committee as having completed the bone density accreditation program.

The OAR Canadian Bone Mineral Densitometry Facility accreditation program is administered by the Ontario Association of Radiologists. Accreditation validates that our bone density program continues to provide patients with the highest quality of care.

BMD testing (gold standard) helps:
  • To confirm diagnosis of osteoporosis;
  • Predict your future risk for fracture;
  • Monitor rate of bone loss; and
  • To check effectiveness of osteoporosis treatments.

The BMD test is quick, painless and non-invasive. It uses a very small amount of radiation, about a tenth of the level used in a chest x-ray.

Bone densitometry tests can be booked by your family physician or specialist between the hours of 8:00 am and 4:00 pm.

The BMD test will be performed by a medical radiation technologist MRT(R), (ADT, CDT) who has been certified and accredited by the Ontario Association of Radiologists (OAR) and Canadian Bone Mineral Densitometry Facility accreditation (CBMD) program, and is also certified by the International Society of Clinical Densitometry (ISCD).

Osteoporosis is a condition of decreased bone strength that increases a person’s risk for breaking a bone. Osteoporosis is called the “silent thief” because it takes years to develop without any symptoms or signs.

The first warning sign may be a “fragility” fracture that occurs spontaneously or from a simple activity such as twisting, lifting, bending or falling from a standing height or less.

Fractures from osteoporosis are more common than heart attacks, strokes and breast cancer combined. At least 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men will suffer from an osteoporotic fracture during their lifetime.

Building strong bones during childhood and adolescence can be the best defense against developing osteoporosis later. No single cause for osteoporosis has been identified. Certain risk factors seem to play a role in the development of osteoporosis. Risk factors are additive, meaning that the more risk factors you have, the greater the risk of developing osteoporosis.

Who needs a bone density test?

Indications for bone density testing include but are not limited to:

  • All women and men 65 years or older
  • All women and men between the ages of 50 and 64 with any of the following risk factors:
    • a previous fragility fracture after age 40
    • a parent who had a hip fracture
    • current medications such as steroids or prednisone
    • aromatase inhibitors used for breast cancer
    • androgen deprivation therapy used for prostate cancer
    • Low body (weight < 132 lbs)
    • Early menopause (before age 45)
    • Low testosterone levels in a man
    • Amenorrhea (loss of periods) in child bearing years
    • Malabsorption syndromes such as celiac disease, Crohns disease, ulcerative colitis
    • Chronic liver disease
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • Transplant patients
    • Hyperthyroidism
    • Primary hyperparathyroidism
    • Heartburn medications
    • Depo Provera medication
    • Diuretics
    • COPD
    • Prolonged immobilization
    • Low vitamin D levels
    • Anorexia nervosa
    • Gastric bypass surgery
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Current smoker
    • 3 or more alcohol drinks per day
    • Weight loss of more than 10% since age 25
    • High risk for falls
    • Other disorders and risk factors strongly associated with rapid bone loss and/or fracture as outlined in the MOHLTC's OHIP Schedule of Benefits BMD Fact Sheet.
  • Younger men or women (under 50) with a disease or condition associated with low bone mass or bone loss:
    • Fragility fractures
    • High-risk medication use (steroid use, aromatase inhibitors, androgen deprivation therapy)
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Other chronic inflammatory conditions
    • Cushing’s disease
    • Malabsorption syndrome
    • Uncontrolled hyperthyroidism
    • Primary hyperparathyroidism
    • Hypogonadism;
    • Early menopause (before age 45)
    • Other disorders associated with rapid bone loss/fractures
Pediatric BMD testing

High risk children five to 19 years of age are eligible for BMD testing. A radiologist consultation is required for children age five to 12 years old.

OHIP covers:
  • One baseline BMD study per patient per lifetime.
  • High risk: OHIP covers annual BMD tests for individuals at high risk for osteoporosis and future fractures
  • Low risk: A subsequent test for a low risk individual with a normal baseline BMD exam is 36 months. Third and subsequent BMD tests qualify for follow-up exams every 60 months. These guidelines may change with advancing age or with the development of new clinical risk factors and the individual may then qualify for earlier testing.

The Ministry of Health has adopted guidelines impacting patient eligibility for OHIP funded bone density examinations. Patients who are deemed ineligible by OHIP may be billed directly.

How can I prepare for the test?
  • Do not take a calcium pill on the day of the bone density test;
  • Wait one week after any barium, contrast media or nuclear medicine to have your BMD test;
  • If possible, avoid wearing clothing with zippers, metal or plastic buttons and belts for the test. Sweat pants and a top and a bra without underwire are good options;
  • You will be lying on a soft bed and two bone density scans will be taken--one of your hip and one of your lower spine. Occasionally, some patients may need to have a bone density scan done of their wrist instead. 
  • We do not conduct BMD tests if you are pregnant or suspect you might be pregnant. 
How long will the test take?

Please allow 30 minutes for this test.

You will be asked to fill out an Osteoporosis Questionnaire before you see the technologist. This lets the reporting radiologist who interprets your bone density test know a bit about your history.

Referring physicians

If you would like more information about OHIP funded bone density examinations, visit our patient eligibility page (opens in new window).

When completing the requisition for your patient, please document all risk factors and the date of previous BMD tests.

For the purpose of accurate comparisons, successive BMD exams are best performed on the same machine at the same site.

The 2010 clinical practice guidelines for the diagnosis and management of osteoporosis in Canada on the Canadian Medical Association website (opens in new window).

Reference: OHIP guidelines for ordering BMD exams may be found at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (opens in new window).

CAR Technical Standards for Bone Mineral Densitometry reporting (opens in new window).