A DEXA scan (dual energy x-ray absorptiometry) is a bone density test that assesses whether you have normal bone density, low bone density (also referred to as osteopenia), or osteoporosis. Typically, a DEXA scan measures your bone density at the hip or spine, which is where most osteoporosis-related fractures occur. A DEXA scan takes about ten minutes and is associated with minimal radiation exposure.
The scan is painless and doesn’t take a lot of time. You lie on your back on an imaging table and a mechanical device (the scanner) passes over your body. The DEXA scan emits a very low level of radiation, about one-tenth of the radiation that you get with a chest x-ray. The test takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends DEXA scans for: Women and men 65 years and older
Men or women with risk factors for osteoporosis
- being female
- men age 50 and older
- frame size: smaller, thinner framed people are at greater risk
- low calcium intake
- family history of osteoporosis
- history of broken bones
- alcohol abuse
A DEXA scan is also recommended if you have had spine x-rays showing a break or bone loss, back pain that may be related to spine fracture, or height loss (one half-inch or more within a year or 1-1/2 inches from total height).
The scan detects weak or brittle bones before you have a fracture. The score helps to predict your chance of fracture in the future, and perhaps the need for osteoporosis medication. The DEXA scan, when compared to previous DEXA scan results, indicates whether your bone density is improving, worsening, or staying the same. It helps determine if your osteoporosis medication is working. After a fracture occurs, a DEXA scan can assess if it was likely due to osteoporosis.
To schedule an appointment for your DEXA scan, please call l.888.395.0802.