Osteoporosis is a common disease that causes bones to become fragile and brittle. Osteoporosis causes bones to lose minerals such as calcium quicker than the body can replace them and consequently there is a reduction in bone strength and density. As the bone becomes thinner, even a small bump or minor fall may cause a serious fracture. Therefore osteoporosis leads to a  higher risk of fractures compared to normal healthy bone.  Osteoporosis is often called the ‘silent disease’ because there are usually no symptoms until a fracture occurs.

Approximately 4.74 million Australians over the age of 50 have osteoporosis or poor bone health, and ~150,000 fractures occur each year due to osteoporosis or osteopenia (low bone density).  Osteoporosis particularly affects women after menopause and in their later years, although men are also affected. Physical activity and a healthy, balanced  diet rich in calcium and vitamin D can help prevent osteoporosis.

Scanning of the axial skeleton by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry is the gold standard in Australia for the measurement of bone mineral density (BMD). DEXA is a diagnostic tool for osteoporosis or osteopenia, enabling doctors to determine the extent of bone loss for clinical decision making. Riverside Medical Imaging provides an accurate and convenient bone densitometry service for patients  and doctors. Early detection of bone mineral loss can help prevent the occurrence of an initial fracture. For patients who may have already had a fracture, investigation with a DEXA scan and initiation of osteoporosis medication combined with a healthy diet and exercise regime is crucial to reduce the very high risk of subsequent fractures.

We are committed to supporting doctors in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and management of their patients and our team of health care professionals at Riverside Medical Imaging are dedicated to increasing awareness, education and knowledge of osteoporosis.


There are many risk factors for osteoporosis. Therefore, you may like to have your bone mineral density (BMD) assessed if:

  • You are over 70 years of age
  • You consume inadequate amounts of dietary calcium
  • You have low vitamin D levels
  • You are a smoker cigarette smoking
  • Your alcohol intake exceeds more than two standard drinks per day
  • Your caffeine intake is more than three cups of tea, coffee or equivalent per day
  • You have poor physical activity levels
  • You experience early menopause (before the age of 45)
  • You have lost your menstrual period due to a reduction in oestrogen levels, which is vital for healthy bones
  • You have a long-term use of medications such as corticosteroids for rheumatoid arthritis, asthma or other conditions.

Some conditions place people at a higher risk of osteoporosis. Therefore it is advised patients with the following conditions have their bone mineral density assessed:

  • Thyroid disease or an overactive thyroid gland
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Chronic liver and kidney disease
  • Conditions that affect the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, such as Crohn’s disease, coeliac disease and other inflammatory bowel conditions

If you have any of the conditions immediately above, you may be eligible for medicare bulk billing, for your bone density scan. In addition, every Australian man or woman over 70 years of age is eligible for medicare bulk billing. If a medicare rebate is not available to you, the cost of a scan is $87.50. Some private health funds do offer cover for bone density scans, so please check with your provider.