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Bone Health Assessments

Bone scan assessments use the CUBA clinical ultrasound machine. Ultrasound waves are passed through the heel bone and the amount of ultrasound that reaches the detector on the other side of the heel is measured. The quantity of the ultrasound absorbed by the bone depends on the complexity of structure of the bone and also its mineral content. Quantitative Ultrasound Sonometry is therefore a good predictor of fracture. The machine does not use X-ray radiation.

The heel-bone is used for this test because the bone at the heel is similar in structure to that at the hip.  It is not possible to perform this test at the hip because it is covered by too much fat and muscle. Also, the heel is a weight-bearing bone so that it reflects the health of other, similar, bones and it is readily accessible.

What will happen during the scan

You will need to remove your shoes and socks, or tights, but no other clothing or jewelery. You remain in a sitting position with one foot at a time in the CUBA clinical machine. Your leg will be lightly strapped to a support to steady it. Ultrasound gel is applied to your heel to ensure no air is trapped between your foot and the ultrasound transmitter, which could affect the result. Normally two readings are performed on each foot as a double check.

We will discuss the result with you at the end of the procedure. You will be told how your result compares to the average for your age and also the relative condition of your bones compared to the average 20 year old; this is universally used as an indicator of risk of fracture. We will also be able to discuss dietary and lifestyle factors that could improve your bone strength.

The scan follow-up

For those people found to have low bone-density, BCOM offers free 1 hour post-scan consultations with student osteopaths (3rd or 4th year students with qualified supervision). At this consultation a detailed diet analysis, exercise programme and life-style advice can be given.

Time and cost of the scan

Bone-scan appointments last around 30 minutes.
The cost of the scan is £30, or £20 for those on benefit or over 65 years old, and is free for those over 80 years old.

How to arrange a scan

The clinics are on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons from 2.00pm and are held at
Lief House (Finchley Road) opposite Finchley Road Underground station.
There is a small car park behind the building, pleas eask Lief House reception to reserve a space.

For further information and to make an appointment please contact Daphne Bird on 0207 472 5841 or email

  • Osteoporosis and Bone Health 
    • Our bones can be normal and strong, osteoporotic and fragile or somewhere in between. Skeletal bones are made up of a thick outer shell surrounding a strong inner mesh consisting of collagen, calcium salts and minerals. In the spaces between the inner supporting struts of bone are blood vessels and bone marrow. Bone is alive and constantly changing. Old, worn out bone is broken down by cells called osteoclasts and is then built up again by bone building cells called osteoblasts. This process is known as bone turnover. Up until the age of 35 there is a balance between bone break-down and new bone formation which means that bone density remains stable. After this age bone loss increases as part of the normal ageing process. However this can lead to osteoporosis and an increased risk of fracture.

      Osteoporosis means that some of the struts of bone become thin or break and the bone becomes too porous. Osteoporosis may make a person more prone to a bone fracture which can follow from a fall or more rarely can occur spontaneously.  Any bone may be affected, but the most common fractures involve the hip, wrist or the spine. Fractures resulting from bone fragility in the elderly have a major impact on quality of life and frequently cause serious disability.

      One in two women and one in five men over the age of 50 in the U.K. will break a bone because of underlying osteoporosis.

  • Bone Facts
    • Peak bone mass is achieved by age 30. Genetics or lifestyle factors (Poor diet or excessive dieiting, lack of exercise, illness) may mean that a good bone density is not achieved. Low peak bone mass becomes a disadvantage in old age. After skeletal maturity, bone is lost in both women and men at about 1% a year. Women experience a phase of accelerated bone loss for three years after the menopause.

      Risk factors

      • These contribute to fracture risk independently of bone densityAge(50+ females, 65+males)
      • Poor diet, including excessive, long-term dieting
      • Previous fragility fracture especially after age 40
      • Premature menopause or hysterectomy(Under 45 years)
      • Family history of osteoporosis or hip fracture
      • Prolonged use of oral prednisolone
      • Chronic disorders associated with osteoporosis, for example hyperparathyroidism, malabsorption syndromes, eating disorders.
      • Low body mass index (BMI - less than 19 kg / m2) or weight less than 49kg (7stone 10lb)
      • History of smoking
      • High alcohol consumption
      • Too little physical activity.
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