DEXA Scan Bone Density Test
Bone densitometry is used to measure the mineral content and density of your bones. Measurements are taken from the spine, pelvis, lower arm, and thigh. Bone Densitometry is used to diagnose and follow the progression of osteoporosis and osteopenia. DEXA scanning helps to follow the course of decreasing bone mass, which can make your bones more brittle and prone to fracture.
A DEXA scan uses a very low dose of radiation in order to produce images of your body, typically of your hips, spine, pelvis, lower arm, or thigh. As you age, you may experience bone loss or low bone density, which can lead to future health complications. A DEXA scan is a noninvasive bone loss scan that allows our radiologists to determine the strength and health of your bones.
What is a DEXA scan?
A DEXA scan, which stands for dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scan, measures bone loss, which can be an indicator if you may be more likely to suffer a fracture or broken bone. A DEXA scan is a noninvasive medical imaging tool that is one of the most accurate measurements for bone loss. Immediately following your DEXA scan, you will be able to go back to your normal daily activities.
What can a DEXA scan help diagnose?
A DEXA test can be used to diagnose osteoporosis, which is a bone disease that causes your body to lose more bone than it makes, produce too little bone, or a combination of both. Osteoporosis can weaken the integrity of your bones and cause them to be more likely to break or fracture. Unfortunately, osteoporosis can cause bones to break from even minor falls or bumps. Additionally, a DEXA scan can be used to diagnose osteopenia, which is a form of bone loss that occurs when your body is unable to produce new bone as quickly as it is absorbed. Like osteoporosis, osteopenia also causes weaker bones that may be more prone to fracturing. Osteopenia and osteoporosis are related bone diseases, but the difference derives from the severity of bone loss. Osteoporosis results in bones that are even more fragile than those of osteopenia.
- DEXA scans are recommended if you
- Are post-menopausal and not taking hormone replacement therapy
- Have a history of smoking
- Have experienced bone loss or bone trauma
- Have a family history of osteoporosis, fracture(s), hyperthyroidism, or other related clinical conditions such as diabetes, liver, or kidney disease
- Use certain medications known to contribute to bone loss, such as corticosteroids, Prednisone, Dilantin, some barbiturates, and thyroid replacement medications
What can I expect from a DEXA scan?
There is little to no preparation for a DEXA Scan. You may eat as you normally do; however, do not take any calcium supplements one day prior to the exam. Dress comfortably and try to avoid garments with metal (zippers, belts, or buttons).
You may have to wait ten to fourteen days before undergoing a DEXA test if you have had another diagnostic study which required the use of a contrast agent such as barium enema, an upper / lower GI series esophagram, or have been injected with a contrast material for a computed tomography (CT) scan or radioisotope scan for a bone or PET / CT scan. As with all radiological procedures, patients should inform the technologist if there is any chance of pregnancy.
During your DEXA scan, you will lie down on the procedure table, and an overhead device will begin to take images of your spine. You may be asked to reposition in order to gain clear images or for the radiologists to scan another part of your body. After your DEXA scan, you will be able to go back to your daily activity immediately. Routine DEXA scans are recommended for women over the age of fifty or younger women who are at a greater risk for osteopenia or osteoporosis. DEXA reports are reported with your test results and will be in the form of two scores: a “T” score and a “Z” score.
T score - indicates the amount of bone you have when compared with a young adult of the same gender with peak bone mass. A score above -1 is considered normal. A score between -1 and -2.5 is classified as osteopenia, the first stage of bone loss. A score below -2.5 is defined as osteoporosis. It is used to estimate your risk of developing a fracture.
Z score - indicates the amount of bone you have when compared to other people in your age group and of the same size and gender. If it is unusually high or low, it may indicate a need for further medical tests.
How long does a DEXA scan take, and when will I get my results?
Most DEXA scans can be completed in just ten to thirty minutes, but your DEXA scan may vary in length if you are having more images taken or if you are having parts of the body other than your hips and spine evaluated. Our radiologists will immediately begin to evaluate your DEXA scan results and notify your physician when your results are available. Your physician will then contact you to discuss your DEXA scan results and create a proper treatment regime if necessary.
How can I learn more about a DEXA scan?
Our radiologists at Park Avenue Radiologists would be happy to discuss a DEXA scan with you. For an appointment or additional information, please call 212.888.1000, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or request an appointment online.