Bone density or bone mineral density (BMD) is the amount of bone mineral in bone tissue. The concept is of mass of mineral per volume of bone (relating to density in the physics sense), although clinically it is measured by proxy according to optical density per square centimeter of bone surface upon imaging. Bone density measurement is used in clinical medicine as an indirect indicator of osteoporosis and fracture risk. It is measured by a procedure called densitometry, often performed in the radiology or nuclear medicine departments of hospitals or clinics. The measurement is painless and non-invasive and involves low radiation exposure. Measurements are most commonly made over the lumbar spine and over the upper part of the hip.The forearm may be scanned if the hip and lumbar spine are not accessible.
There is a statistical association between poor bone density and higher probability of fracture. Fractures of the legs and pelvis due to falls are a significant public health problem, especially in elderly women, leading to much medical cost, inability to live independently, and even risk of death. Bone density measurements are used to screen people for osteoporosis risk and to identify those who might benefit from measures to improve bone strength.