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BMD: what is it, preparation for the exam, and how to read the values

The CMO, Computerized Bone Mineralometry, is a diagnostic test aimed at calculating bone mineral density using low-dose X-rays.

This radiological exam is useful for:

  • measuring side effects or the response to treatment;
  • assessing the risk of fractures;
  • diagnosing osteoporosis, a systemic skeletal disease that leads to bone fragility due to the deterioration of bone tissue microarchitecture;
  • diagnosing osteopenia, a less severe condition than osteoporosis, characterized by reduced bone density.

CMO is performed upon a doctor’s request and is particularly recommended for men over 60 years of age who have risk factors for osteoporosis or for postmenopausal women.

There are two types of CMO: central and peripheral. In the first case, the test is performed to evaluate the density of the hip (femoral CMO) and the lumbar spine (lumbar CMO). Peripheral CMO, on the other hand, measures bone density at the wrist, fingers, or heel.

What does the CMO involve and how to interpret the values?

It is a completely painless, safe, and quick test that requires no preparation in the days or hours before the exam. Patients do not need to undress for the CMO, but it is advisable to wear a plain T-shirt without writing and clothes without metallic elements. The procedure lasts between 10 and 20 minutes and requires the patient to remain still for 5 minutes.

CMO provides values ​​of bone mineral mass (BMC) and density (BMD), interpreted through the T-score index. This expresses the difference between two measurements: that detected on the patient and that on a healthy 30-year-old subject.

If this value is slightly below normal, it is osteopenia; if it is much lower (less than -2.5), it is osteoporosis.

Types of osteoporosis and consequences

Osteoporosis is divided into two types: primary (due to aging, senile osteoporosis, or to the loss of estrogen, post-menopausal osteoporosis) and secondary (due to the intake of certain drugs or as a consequence of other diseases – hematological, endocrine, gastrointestinal, renal, rheumatological, and neurological).

The consequences of osteoporosis are weakness and fragility of bone tissue, leading to a greater predisposition of the skeleton to fractures in the future. Although this disease affects both men and women indiscriminately, women are considered at higher risk due to three main reasons: longer life expectancy, lower calcium content in bones, menopause.

According to statistics, approximately one in four women suffer from this condition. Among men, osteoporosis affects one in ten, because the decline in the production of sex hormones is much lower than in women. In any case, men at higher risk are those with low levels of testosterone or who suffer from hypogonadism, the reduced ability of the testes to produce sex hormones.

Have your CMO at MiniHospital “Sandro Pertini”

The equipment used at MiniHospital “Sandro Pertini” for computerized bone mineralometry (CMO) is an OsteoSys PRIMUS that uses the dual-energy X-ray absorption technique (DEXA) and is used for the study of bone density and body composition (fat mass, lean mass, BMC, visceral fat).

The machine uses an algorithm (FRAX®) to calculate the probability of future bone fractures over 10 years in women and men. For reading the values, at the end of each page, MiniHospital provides a comprehensive explanation and, if requested, provides a copy of the report with sensitive data obscured.

Do you want to book a CMO? Fill the form and send your request!

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